An interchange near a school in Saint-Denis: this hidden scandal of the 2024 Olympic Games

“Sport is good for your health. » Often heard, always put forward, this phrase is a usual argument in public health policies. However, the Olympic and Paralympic Games, international emblem of sport, which will take place in Paris in 2024, hide a much more harmful reality for the health of 600 children in Seine-Saint-Denis.

Dirif (Ile-de-France Interdepartmental Roads Department) and Solideo (Olympic Works Delivery Company) are currently financing and building a motorway interchange near the Pleyel-Anatole France school group in Saint-Denis, in order to facilitate access to the future Olympic athletes’ village. Scheduled for 2023, the commissioning of the interchange will encircle the school complex and its playground between motorway access ramps.

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Despite the alerts and the mobilization of local residents and parents of pupils, in particular on the risks linked to air pollution, this project has been carried out for three years without any real consultation and without any transparency towards them.

In France, 3 out of 4 children breathe polluted air

However, this project carries an intrinsic health risk. Children are the first victims of air pollution. According to UNICEF, three out of four children breathe polluted air in France. They breathe faster than adults and their organism, in the course of development, is all the more sensitive to air pollution, in particular that resulting from road traffic. Building an imposing motorway interchange close to a school is a health aberration, even though the Pleyel school center is already exposed to concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) that exceed five times the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation.

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This project is a health and political scandal. The culpable blindness of politicians and the total lack of consideration of the health risk are regrettable and incomprehensible, as are the “solutions” proposed today to protect children. The methods of Solideo, where the State and elected representatives of local authorities sit (City of Paris, metropolis of Greater Paris, Ile-de-France region, departmental council of Seine-Saint-Denis, city of Saint-Denis, etc.) illustrate France’s shortcomings and inadequacies in its policy to combat air pollution. The recent sentencing of the State in August 2021 to a fine of 10 million euros by the Council of State is the most recent example of this.

You have to move the school or change the route

We can only wonder when public decision-makers will seriously take into account the health of the population in the development of urban projects. Today, in Seine-Saint-Denis, they continue to be stubborn and blind to pass the major projects of the Olympic and Paralympic Games for the sole benefit of easy access for athletes. There is still time to show courage and benevolence by finding an alternative solution to move the school or modify the route of the motorway interchange.

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It is also essential not to delay the phase-out of diesel, scheduled for 2024 in a large part of the Greater Paris metropolis, and which will make it possible to effectively combat NO pollution.2. Failing this, the elected officials will bear the immense responsibility of having delivered 600 children to our common enemy which is air pollution.


– Tony Renucci, Managing Director of Breathe

– Pierre Dornier, coordinator of the Clean Cities Campaign in France

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– Anne Pieter, co-president FCPE 93

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– Isabelle Lacroix, co-president FCPE 93

– Hamid Ouidir, FCPE 93 administrator and air pollution referent

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