AP PHOTOS: Paris Olympics venues mix history and modernity and showcase cultural heritage

PARIS (AP) — Iconic or historic venues are at the heart of the Paris Olympics — organizers want the event to be about the spectacle as well as the sports.

Athletics stars will speed along an eye-catching new purple track at the Stade de France national stadium. Tennis players will vie for medals on the trademark clay courts of Roland Garros, home to the French Open.

Horse riders will race through the once-royal gardens of Versailles. Breakdancers, BMX riders and skaters will compete beneath an ancient Egyptian obelisk at the square where France’s last king and queen were beheaded.

The 135-year-old Eiffel Tower forms the backdrop for beach volleyball, wrestling and judo. Triathletes are scheduled to swim in the Seine River, past Paris landmarks.

And surfers will ride the world’s most legendary wave s, across the planet in Tahiti, in French Polynesia.

Work is still underway to finalize or renovate Olympic sites ahead of the July 26 opening ceremony.

France built only two new venues for these Games: an aquatics center in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis, and an arena in one of the poorest parts of the city, meant to be both environmentally and socially conscious.

For the rest, organizers are relying on temporary sites or existing venues — like the refurbished Yves de Manoir stadium, showpiece of the last Paris Olympics a century ago.