The date is symbolic. It is also a milestone. The countdown clock shows 1,000 days, this Thursday 2 December, before the opening of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. They will be held from 28 August to 8 September 2024. They are set to be the largest in history, with 4,400 athletes expected, 22 sports and 549 events on the programme, and more than 3 million tickets to be sold.
More than four years have passed since the French capital was awarded the Paralympic event. There are now less than three years to go before the opening. How far have we come? What remains to be done? Marie-Amélie Le Fur (pictured above), President of the French Paralympic and Sports Committee (CPSF), answered FrancsJeux’ questions.
FrancsJeux: More than four years have passed since Paris was awarded the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024. Do you already feel an impact of the event on the French Paralympic movement?
Marie-Amélie Le Fur: Yes, what we feel most, with 1,000 days to go, is that the aura of the Paris 2024 Games is opening doors and minds. We are more easily able to capture and hold the attention of the various players involved in the event. The Games offer us the opportunity to meet and discuss with the sports movement, public authorities, the National Sports Agency (ANS), local authorities, the medico-social sector, etc. It is easier for us to get people around the table. This allows us to create synergies to implement the projects we have launched to put sport back at the centre of the lives and daily lives of people with disabilities. In order to carry them out, we need the departments to listen to us. The aura of the Paris 2024 Games greatly facilitates this listening, in particular via the Terre de Jeux operation.
Do the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games bring you more resources?
Yes, the agreement signed with the State and our relationship with the Paris 2024 OCOG have given us more resources. We can now carry out two decisive projects for the Paralympic Games and for the future of the disabled sport movement: the detection of talent, with the “La Relève” operation, and the recruitment for the past two years of at least one salaried paralympic advisor per French region. These additional resources also allow us to better support our 42 sports federations in developing a model of para-sport.
Is the effect of Paris 2024 being felt in terms of sports participation by people with disabilities?
It is not possible to give a precise answer to this question because we do not have statistics on the rate of participation in a large number of disabled sports. Today, it is still very difficult to reference practitioners because they do not always take out a licence. This is an important area of work for us: how to get to know our public better. This work will allow us to draw up a more precise picture of the practice. We will then be able to better help the federations to finance not only high performance, but also the other levels of practice, to be able, in the long run, to detect and bring out the Paralympic athletes of tomorrow.
With 1,000 days to go until the opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, what remains to be done?
Succeed with the legacy. To ensure that there is a before and after Paris 2024 for sport for people with disabilities. Paris 2024 must trigger a real change. Eventually, everyone should be able to find a welcoming para-sports club close to home. With 1,000 days to go before the opening, we must also work on the accessibility of sports facilities. Finally, it is very important to enhance our sports offer. In the future, people will have to be able to say to themselves that sport is possible regardless of their level of disability. Sport must become a reflex.
How does the “last mile”, the immediate access to the competition sites, look today for the future players and spectators of the Paris 2024 Games?
It is a real challenge. The OCOG wants the Paris 2024 Games to be exemplary in terms of universal accessibility. This “last mile” issue is crucial to achieving this ambition. From now on, each actor involved in the preparation of the event, alongside the organising committee, must ensure that this accessibility is put in place.
With 1,000 days to go, is there enough talk about the Paralympic Games?
The idea is not to compare the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but rather to achieve media coverage that is commensurate with the efforts, sacrifices and performances of Paralympic athletes. We would like them to be talked about more, to be valued, to have the media spotlight on them more than just once every two years. The public must be made accustomed to the names and careers of Paralympic athletes through reports, magazines and decryption in the run-up to the event. The call for tenders has been launched for the audiovisual rights of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. When the choice is made, the challenge will not only be to cover the competitions, but also to provide long-term support for Paralympic athletes and their disciplines.