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Paris 2024 Olympics: and suddenly, sport has become a priority


VSThis is undoubtedly the “Olympic magic”. With the prospect of hosting the Games in the summer of 2024 in France, sport, which state public policies have tended to ignore for years, is suddenly displayed as a priority.

The “Olympic effect” was certainly not immediate. The commotion was only sounded from May 2021, when Emmanuel Macron called for France to be “a sporting nation”. Three years before the opening of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (JOP). But four years after obtaining these.

Until then, his first five-year term had above all been marked by a penknife in the appropriations committed to sport by the State. To the point that, as early as October 2018, in an open letter, 380 sportsmen and women had warned that “the family of French sport is in danger”.

Physical practice and sports “great national cause for 2024” was only proclaimed in July 2022, at the start of the second five-year term, with one objective: that the JOPs leave a ” legacy “.

This applies first of all to the practice of young people: (re)energizing it is presented as the “mother of battles” by Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, the Minister of Sports and the JOP, who regularly underlines the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle and has also made health sport a key axis.

At school, the government seeks to generalize thirty minutes of daily physical activity in primary school and is experimenting with two additional hours of sport per week in college. Measures that are not easy to put in place.

The risk of a “flare in the pan”

Beyond, “The big challenge is to succeed in strengthening our sporting model”, has often repeated Mme Oudéa-Castéra since his appointment in May 2022. A way of saying that, if we want to develop the practice of sport, we must at the same time facilitate access to it – but the Sport Pass, for example, is struggling to achieve its target of 5.6 million young people -, consolidate the service offer and ensure the existence of sufficient and appropriate equipment.

Traditional “vehicle” of this practice, associative sport is weakened and must be accompanied in the evolution of its organization (renewal of volunteers, professionalization, financing) and its offer, the latter no longer necessarily meeting expectations, in particular those women.

As for the sports infrastructures, they are not numerous enough and, for those that exist, they are often aging. The government claims that ” the landscape ” of this equipment “will change through the Games”. At the end of 2021, it urgently launched a plan to create 5,000 local facilities, devoting 200 million euros to it over two years.

Not enough, according to a number of elected officials – in particular local elected officials, the first financiers of sport – who are demanding ” a great Marshall Plan » for structuring equipment (stadiums, gymnasiums, swimming pools, etc.). Especially since the energy crisis has reinforced the need to renovate a good part of the park.

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“It is a lasting legacy that we will leave, which will allow us to really make our nation a sporting nation over time through practice and infrastructure”, assured Mr.
Macron, March 14, 500 days before the opening of the Games.

“It’s not just words”, says the government. Chick! retort the elected officials, who expect it to be budgetary tangible after the JOP. Otherwise, in their eyes, the Olympic effect, which ended up leading to an increase in State credits for sport (even if they still weigh only 0.2% of the budget), will remain “a fire in the pan”.