Paris Olympics poster sparks controversy over missing cross

Paris Olympics

The official posters for the upcoming Paris Olympics have sparked a heated debate over the removal of the cross over one of the city’s landmarks.

The cross that crowns the dome of the Hôtel des Invalides has been excluded from the artwork created by French illustrator Ugo Gattoni.

Hôtel des Invalides is a notable 17th-century complex serving as a museum, hospital and home for retired soldiers.

The artwork for the Paris Olympics prominently features iconic French structures like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.

Yet it is the absence of the cross atop Les Invalides that has drawn the most comment.

“They are willing to deny France to the point of distorting reality to erase its history” charged François-Xavier Bellamy.

Bellamy, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and executive vice-president of the Republicans, a liberal-conservative political party, said “How can one understand Les Invalides by erasing the cross that constitutes its profound meaning? How can one claim to love a country when one does everything to destroy its roots?”

Marion Maréchal, the lead MEP candidate for Reconquest! (a far-right French nationalist party) and Gilbert Collard, another party member, echoed similar sentiments accusing the artwork of betraying French heritage.

Creative liberties

“Why erase the cross at the top of the dome of Les Invalides on the official poster of the 2024 Olympics? Why no French flag? What’s the point of hosting the Olympic Games in France if it’s to hide who we are?”

In response, the Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games defended Gattoni’s work as a whimsical reinterpretation of Paris, emphasising that artistic licence allowed for creative liberties.

The committee clarified that the guidelines provided to Gattoni did not mandate the removal of religious symbols but focused on incorporating essential Olympic elements.

“Many elements could be reinterpreted by the artist. It is a representation which is neither exhaustive nor faithful to reality – the Tahiti wave is off the Marseille Marina, the Eiffel Tower is pink, the Metro passes under the Arc de Triomphe – (this) should not be subject to politically motivated interpretations” the committee said.

Gattoni defended his artistic choices, asserting that his aim was not to adhere to reality strictly but to offer a personal interpretation of Parisian landmarks.

This controversy harks back to the 1924 Paris Olympics, where a poster featuring the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur also omitted its cross.

More recently, an advertisement during this year’s Superbowl sparked controversy when religious imagery was edited out.


La Croix International

CathNews New Zealand


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