After a stormy year 2020 for the sporting world from a health and financial standpoint, the sky is brightening up for the organization of the Paris 2024 Games, which is gradually returning to sporting issues. “We’re finally talking about sport, it feels good”, exclaims Jean-Philippe Gatien, former table tennis silver medalist in Barcelona (1992) and now in charge of the athletes and the sports program.
On Monday December 7, the Olympic committee validated almost the entire program proposed by the Paris Organizing Committee. Attention has focused on the adoption of breakdance, officially renamed breaking, and on the maintenance for the Parisian edition of three sports invited to Tokyo: climbing, surfing and skateboarding.
→ Olympic Games 2024. Breakdance, first Olympic steps in Paris
The Paris Games will also be the first in mixed history, down to the point: the 10,500 athletes selected will be divided into 5,250 boys and as many girls. “This does not mean that there will be as many girls as there are boys in all disciplines, specifies Jean-Philippe Gatien. To avoid quotas leading to the selection of athletes who do not have the level, it was decided to make the village mixed for all events, and not event by event. “
This essential data to thwart the macho reputation of the Olympic movement leaves in the background another essential data for the Parisian atmosphere: the modernization of the Games, considered outdated by a part of the youth who are not interested in them, to the chagrin of the sponsors and TV channels. “We have focused on urban sports and nature activities, such as kitesurfing (which will appear in 2024, Editor’s note). It is essential to stick to the practices of the new generations ”, continues the former table tennis player.
There are still some adjustments to manage, such as the regret of the French handball players, twice covered in gold, who see themselves far from the heart of the Olympic celebration. In the game of cup of the selected sites, the small ball was sent to the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d’Ascq (North). Nikola Karabatic’s teammates, if he is still there, will therefore not be accommodated with the other athletes.
“It is not easy for them, we will do everything to integrate them in another way, for example by bringing them to the village on the days off, recognizes Jean-Philippe Gatien. But in the process they won a magnificent stadium with 27,000 seats that they would never have had in Paris. “
In the category of losers, we find walkers (the 50 km is deleted), weightlifters (four events less) and medal merchants, since the Paris Games will have ten fewer podiums, 339 against 329. Among the seven candidate provincial towns – for six places – to host football matches, there will also be a disappointment. The final choice between Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Saint-Étienne and Toulouse will be announced on December 17, at the end of the Board of Directors of the Organizing Committee.
An offshore racing event?
But there are also possible winners such as ocean racing sailors, very popular in France if we believe the success of the Vendée Globe. The plan to integrate them into the program, which will also be validated on December 17, will depend on the ability of the French to demonstrate the interest of this event, contested in doubles (one man and one woman) off Marseille. “We believe in it, the IOC has given us until the spring to refine the proposal”, continues Jean-Philippe Gatien.
Competition will be tough, for the few remaining places, with the International Athletics Federation, led by Sebastian Coe, one of the most powerful men in world sport. The boss of London 2012 is working on the project of a new mixed race event. It will therefore be sailing or athletics, because the maximum tonnage of 10,500 athletes is not negotiable.