Here's your 2024 Paris Olympics primer: When do the Games start, what's the schedule, more

The 2024 Paris Olympics are quickly approaching, with more than 10,000 athletes set to converge later this summer for what organizers hope will be a spectacular showcase of France − and a return to normalcy.

After the past two editions of the Games took place under the specter of COVID-19, with no or few fans permitted to attend, the Paris Olympics are expected to feature full stadiums and an extravagant opening ceremony along the Seine River. It will also be more convenient for U.S. television viewers, who will be able to watch primetime finals in key sports during the middle of the day.

Here's everything else you need to know about the 2024 Paris Olympics.

When do the Olympics start in Paris?

The first competitions of the 2024 Paris Olympics will be group stage matches in men's soccer and rugby on July 24. The first men's soccer game will kick off at 3 p.m. local time (or 9 a.m. ET). Although a handful of other events in archery, team handball, soccer and rugby will follow the next day, the Games don't formally begin until the opening ceremony, which is slated for July 26.

What is the Olympics 2024 schedule?

The 2024 Paris Olympics run from the aforementioned opening ceremony on July 26 to the closing ceremony on Aug. 11. As usual, gymnastics and swimming will be among the key sports in the first half of the schedule, with track and field among the most popular sports following in the second half. Here are the dates for just a few of the most high-profile events at the Paris Olympics:

Simone Biles won five medals, four of them gold, at the 2023 Gymnastics World Championships.
Simone Biles won five medals, four of them gold, at the 2023 Gymnastics World Championships.
  • July 30: Women's gymnastics (team final)

  • August 1: Women's gymnastics (individual all-around final)

  • August 3: Women's swimming (800-meter freestyle); Women's track and field (100-meter final)

  • August 4: Men's track and field (100-meter final)

  • August 10: Men's basketball (gold-medal game); Women's soccer (gold-medal game)

  • August 11: Women's basketball (gold-medal game)

Read the complete sport-by-sport schedule for the Paris Games here.

How can I watch the Olympics?

Similar to other recent editions of the Games, the Paris Olympics will be shown on NBC and its affiliated channels. The network has said it will televise at least nine hours of daytime Olympic coverage on NBC for the duration of the Games, including live broadcasts of key finals. It will also brodcast every sport and every event on streaming service Peacock. The complete broadcasting schedule, including times and TV channels for specific events, has yet to be announced.

What are the new sports for Paris 2024?

Technically, there will only be one: Breaking. The sport, which is more commonly known as breakdancing, will be contested at the Olympic Games for the first time ever in Paris, with men's and women's fields of 20 competitors each.

Three other sports will be back after debuting at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics: Climbing, skateboarding and surfing.

The next edition of the Summer Games, in Los Angeles in 2028, will mark the debut of cricket, flag football, lacrosse and squash.

Where is the opening ceremony?

At most editions of the Olympic Games, the opening cermony is held in the city's largest stadium. Paris, however, decided to do things a little bit differently.

The Paris 2024 opening ceremony will be the first in Summer Olympics history to be staged outside a stadium, with athletes floating down barges on the Seine River rather than marching into a venue. The barges will travel nearly four miles over the course of the ceremony, beginning near the Austerlitz bridge in the eastern part of downtown Paris and ending to the west, near the Trocadéro.

The opening ceremony promises to be visually striking, but it also poses security challenges. Paris 2024 organizers have recruited thousands of security guards to staff the event, and only 300,000 spectators will be permitted to attend.

How many times has Paris hosted the Olympics?

The 2024 Summer Olympics will be the third iteration of the Games hosted in Paris but the first in exactly a century. The French capital previously hosted the Summer Games in 1924 and 1900. Paris will join London as the only cities to host three editions of the Olympic Games. Los Angeles will become the third when it hosts the subsequent iteration of the Summer Games in 2028.

Where are the Paris Olympic venues?

Many of the events and competitions for the Paris Games will take place in the heart of Paris − and some will even be held at or near some of the French capital's iconic landmarks.

Fencing and taekwondo events, for example, will be held in historic Grand Palais. Equestrian will be among the sports contested at the Palace of Versailles outside the city. And beach volleyball matches might have the most dramatic backdrop of all: They'll take place in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

Will Messi play in the Olympics?

Argentina's under-23 coach Javier Mascherano has said the "door is open" for superstar Lionel Messi to take the field in Paris, though it appears unlikely.

Men's soccer rosters at the Olympics largely consist of under-23 players, but each country is permitted to field three overage players. Messi, the 2022 World Cup champion and eight-time Ballon d'Or winner, could theoretically fill one of those slots. However, he has previously expressed interest in competing for Argentina at the Copa America this summer, and that event ends about two weeks before the Paris Games begin.

Is Simone Biles competing in Paris?

The U.S. won't officially name its Olympic gymnastics team until late June or early July, after the Olympic trials, but Biles is a lock to make it. The four-time Olympic gold medalist took a brief hiatus after the Tokyo Games but returned to form last year, winning four golds at the world championships in Belgium. She remains the most decorated and dominant gymnast on the planet.

Biles will be one of several big names expected to represent Team USA in Paris alongside Katie Ledecky (swimming), Noah Lyles (track and field) and Sha'Carri Richardson (track and field). Several men's and women's basketball stars, including LeBron James and Kelsey Plum, have also expressed interest in participating.

Who is on the Team USA roster?

Many athletes will not book their tickets to Paris until later this summer, when gymnastics, swimming, track and other sports will hold their Olympic trials. But as of Feb. 20, more than 30 athletes had already qualified in sports ranging from climbing and surfing to shooting and sailing.

Carissa Moore (surfing) and Mary Tucker (shooting) were among the 2021 Tokyo medalists who quickly secured their sports on Team USA this summer. Click here for a full list of Team USA qualifiers, courtesy of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Where are the next Olympics?

Following Paris, the next edition of the Olympics will come in early 2026, when Milan–Cortina d'Ampezzo will host the Winter Games. The next edition of the Summer Games will be held in Los Angeles in 2028.

In fact, the International Olympic Committee has already lined up future Olympic hosts through 2034. Brisbane will host the 2032 Summer Games, and the French Alps (2030) and Salt Lake City (2034) are slated to host the next two Winter Games, though their role as host cities will not be officially confirmed until this summer.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2024 Paris Olympics: When they start, schedule. What to know