By Julien Pretot

EAUBONNE, France (Reuters) – Team USA are ready to settle in a small French town, far from the hustle and bustle of central Paris, when they set up their quarters at the revamped Athletica centre for this year’s Olympics.

Some 1,200 athletes and staff will use a state-of-the-art facility in Eaubonne, which has a population 25,000 and is 15km north of Paris, after the Athletica training centre’s renovation is completed in a few weeks.

“It’s really close to the athletes’ village, so it’s really convenient for our athletes to go back and forth,” Rocky Harris, chief of Sport and Athlete Services at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), told Reuters.

“It really has exceeded all of our needs. We’ve visited over a dozen facilities and this one early on, it became clear that it was our top choice.

“It really replicates a lot of what we have in our training centre back home so our athletes will feel at home here.”

On top of the Athletica centre, Team USA will be able to use a close-by swimming pool and stadium.

The Athletica centre, which cost 27 million euros ($29 million) to renovate, also features high-tech massage tables, cryotherapy units, physiotherapy rooms and about 100 bedrooms.

Security is always a hot topic when it comes to the U.S. delegation, but Harris believes Team USA will be safe in Eaubonne.

“We’re obviously the most prominent and visible delegation. So we always take security very seriously. But Paris and France are more safe than most American cities,” he said.

After some delays because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the works have resumed at Athletica.

“We’ve tripled the volume of our main building where we have the bedrooms, the restaurant and paramedical facilities,” Athletica general director Arnaud Zumaglia told Reuters as ‘Flocon’ (Snowflake), the mascot cat of the place, walked through the main door.

“There will be 400 persons on site on a permanent basis, and from the beginning of July until the end of the Paralympics (on Sept 8).”

Some 40 members of staff and a 100 volunteers will work at Athletica during the Games, the centre’s president, Xavier Haquin, told Reuters.

The Olympics will be held from July 26 to Aug. 11 and Paralympics from Aug. 28 to Sept. 8.

($1 = 0.9289 euros)

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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