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How to be an Olympian without qualifying

The Paris 2024 Olympics will feature a mass-start marathon, allowing the public to participate on the same course and same day as Olympians competing for medals

2012 Olympics

Have you ever wished you could participate in the Olympic marathon? Start training, because the Paris Olympics in 2024 will feature a radically democratic idea: for the first time in the history of the Games, the public will be allowed to run the Olympic marathon course in a mass-start event on the same day, under the same conditions as the elites.

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Further details will be revealed as the date approaches. All we know for sure is that ordinary runners who haven’t qualified for the Olympics won’t be running next to the elites, only that the event will take place on the same day.

A number of other new sports could be included in the Paris Olympics, including surfing, skateboarding, break dancing, and sport climbing, which will be included in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo on a one-off basis. (As of 2020, host cities may now propose including new sports, as a way of making the Games more innovative.) Break dancing had its Olympic debut at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018.

It has been proposed that mass participation be extended to other sports as well (such as cycling), in an effort to get the public more engaged with the Games.

There’s no indication yet where the Olympic marathon course will be located, how many people will be allowed to participate, or how much it will cost. 

Tony Estanguet, President of the Paris 2024 Olympic organizing committee, said in a tweet, “For 32 Olympiades, spectators at the Games remained spectators–in the stadiums, listening to the radio, on TV, or on their smartphone. At Paris 2024, we want to go further. It’s been 100 years since the Games were held in this country, and it’s going to be incredible. Most of all, we’re going to let you experience the Games from the inside. It won’t just be 300 of the top athletes in the world running the marathon. You’ll be able to participate.”