GW Students Head to Paris for 2024 Summer Olympic Games

The students will not only have an exciting chance to attend the Olympic Games, but they will also have networking opportunities and gain valuable event management and marketing skills during the trip.

July 9, 2024

The Olympic rings in front of the eiffel tower.

(photo by Luca Dugaro)

A group of 26 George Washington University students are heading to Paris for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. The students will get a chance to meet with Olympic officials and gain valuable insights into the operations of the Games as they witness the excitement of the competition firsthand.

Lisa Delpy Neirotti, the director of the M.S. in Sport Management Program at GW and an associate professor of sport management, has been taking GW students to the Games since 1992.

“I love watching the students at the Olympics and hearing their stories of who they met and what they learned,” Neirotti said. “Just looking at how they fell in love with the Olympic movement like I did 40 years ago when I went to my first Games. It's about sharing that excitement and that international experience that you can't get elsewhere.”

Daniela Cristina Gamez Fajardo, an international student from Colombia studying for her master’s in Tourism, Hospitality and Events Management at GW, said she’s been excitedly counting down the days until they head to Paris all year.

This moment is particularly special for Gamez Fajardo, who competed in Taekwondo while in college and had dreams of someday competing in the Olympics.

“Unfortunately, life didn’t allow me to continue professionally practicing Taekwondo, but I’m so grateful that through GW, I can still be connected with that dream," Gamez Fajardo said. “And I feel so blessed to be able to make the dream of going to the Games come true."

Gamez Fajardo said her goal now is to have a career in event management, and she's looking forward to the hands-on experience she'll gain through the work they do at the Games and the individuals they'll get to meet.

“It's a big opportunity for me since we are going to be able to network and connect with different professionals in the industry," Gamez Fajardo said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how the hospitality dynamic in Paris is going to be. It's already a big tourist destination, so with the Games, I'm curious to see how the hospitality industry is impacted."

While at the Olympic Games, the GW students will volunteer at the USA House, gaining event management and hospitality experience by assisting with ticketing and helping guests at the base. They will also conduct surveys with attendees to collect valuable spectator data that will be shared with the International Olympic Committee and the Future Host Commission.

Students are expected to turn in a term paper at the end of the trip. Most of the paper is completed before they arrive in Paris, and they fill in the rest, connecting their prior research to their observations and experiences at the Games.

Gamez Fajardo said her paper focuses on how the Paris Olympic Games are emphasizing social and environmental responsibility by prioritizing sustainability.

Neirotti said they’ve lined up speakers in Paris who will provide expert information on the students' research topics.

“They're not only learning about the management and marketing of the Games and the social, economic and cultural impact of this mega event, but they're also meeting people from around the world. It’s just an amazing opportunity,” Neirotti said.

The first class at GW that attended the Olympic Games was in the summer of 1992 in Barcelona. Neirotti said they’ve taken a class to every Games ever since except for the Tokyo Summer Olympics held in 2021 and the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Neirotti, her favorite part of attending 22 consecutive Olympic Games is seeing how each host city offers its unique touch to the festivities. She said Paris has tried to utilize existing venues as much as possible and to open the Games to as many people as possible.

“Every Game is different, believe it or not. The venues are unique, the concessions showcase local culture. The way we get around also changes,” Neirotti said. “I’m just excited to see how Paris will transform. I mean, it’s a beautiful city by itself, so I can’t wait to see how they will highlight their existing infrastructure and integrate it into the city.”