The French sports movement can rejoice: it will not have been absent for long from the IOC Athletes’ Commission. Tony Estanguet, the triple Olympic gold medalist in canoe-kayak, current president of the OCOG Paris 2024, left last August, in the evening of the closing ceremony of the Games of Tokyo, at the end of a mandate of eight years lengthened by one year because of the health crisis. But another multi-medalist in the Games will succeed him in very end of week.
Martin Fourcade, five-time Olympic biathlon champion, came out on top in the election to the Athletes’ Commission, organized on the sidelines of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games. The Frenchman will officially become an IOC member on the evening of Sunday, February 20, at the closing ceremony, for a term of eight years.
With 971 votes, or more than 40% of the votes cast (42.1%), Martin Fourcade dominated the competition. Two places were at stake to sit on the IOC Athletes’ Commission. The other elected is a Swedish skier, Frida Hansdotter, 36, Olympic champion of slalom at the PyeongChang 2018 Games. She received 694 votes.
Proof of the attractiveness of the Olympic body to the first interested parties, the athletes, the election had gathered 16 candidates, for only two seats to be filled. They came from 16 different countries, on all five continents, and represented five winter sports and nine disciplines (alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, luge, biathlon, bobsleigh, ice hockey, speed skating and snowboard).
The election was held between January 27 and February 16, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. local time. It was held in the three athletes’ villages in Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou. The vote reached a peak in participation, with 2,307 voters out of the 2,886 registered athletes, a rate of 80.5%.
Martin Fourcade largely dominated the votes. In addition to Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter, only one other candidate, the Swiss ice-hockey player Florence Schelling, passed the 600-vote mark (619). All the others remained below 500 votes.
For the French biathlete, the entry of the IOC seems almost logical. It was expected. Since his retirement in March 2020, at the age of 32, Martin Fourcade has remained very close to the Olympic movement. He chairs the Athletes’ Commission of the Paris 2024 Games. He had announced very early his desire to apply to the IOC at the time of the Games of Beijing 2022.
“The process was stressful, admitted the Frenchman after the announcement of the results of the vote, this Thursday, February 17 at the Main Media Center in Beijing. I am happy and very honored with this election. I have a passion for sports since I was a child, for all sports. I had the chance to go to the Atlanta Games in 1996, on vacation. Then I followed my older brother, Simon, to the Winter Games in Turin in 2006. And the privilege to participate as an athlete in three Olympic Games, Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018. I truly believe in the values of sport and Olympism. For me, this election to the IOC is not a culmination, but an opportunity to represent the athletes and contribute to the evolution of the movement.”
His eight-year mandate, Martin Fourcade explains that he wants to carry it out as close as possible to the athletes and the issues of his time. “With Frida (Hansdotter), we come from winter sports. So we are very sensitive to nature and the environment, he explained in a video conference from his room in Zhangjiakou. But I also want to stay in close contact with the athletes. To represent them, you have to know them, their expectations and their sensitivity. I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of them in the last few months. I want to continue.”
With the election of Martin Fourcade to the Athletes’ Commission, France now has three members on the IOC. The biathlete adds his name to those of Guy Drut, the oldest of the lot, an individual member, and Jean-Christophe Rolland, present on the body in his capacity as president of the International Rowing Federation (World Rowing).
A fourth Frenchman will join the IOC at the end of the week. David Lappartient, President of the International Cycling Union (UCI), has been proposed by the Executive Board to be elected by the Session on Saturday 19 February in Beijing. Except in a very unlikely scenario, he will be inducted. Four IOC members at the same time, France has not known such an abundance for half a century.