— Published 13 July 2022

Two years before Paris 2024, Emmanuel Macron invites himself to the table

It was expected to be a formality, a simple validation session of proposals and decisions already announced and detailed. But the Board of Directors of the OCOG Paris 2024, on Tuesday, July 12, began with a little expected news.

It was delivered by the Minister of Sports and Olympic and Paralympic Games, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, present for the first time since she joined the government. The former director general of the French Tennis Federation explained in preamble, before leaving the meeting to go to the session of questions to the government at the National Assembly, that the head of state, Emmanuel Macron, will meet the main actors of the preparation of the Paris 2024 Games before the end of the month.

Chance or not, the meeting at the Elysee Palace is scheduled for July 25, on the eve of the symbolic date of D – 2 years before the opening of the Olympic Games. Officially, it will be a “detailed point of the progress of the preparation of the Games (security, transport…), as well as on the means to mobilize the whole of the French around this event of importance and its heritage”. Around the president of the Republic and the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, will be held the ministers concerned, plus Tony Estanguet, the president of the OCOG, and Michel Cadot, the interdepartmental delegate to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A “detailed point”, therefore, but which sounds like a form of recovery by the public authorities, after the fiasco of the Champions League final at the Stade de France on May 28, fears of a slippage of the budget, and the ongoing soap opera of the map of sites.

The map, precisely. Not surprisingly, the board of directors gave the green light to the OCOG on Tuesday, July 12, to “continue the work with the concerned actors”. Tony Estanguet and his team can therefore move forward at the same pace, before presenting their new draft to the IOC and the IPC for final validation.

Its details were already known. They foresee a basket-hand exchange in the first week, the first of the two team sports going to Lille, at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, while the second one will settle in Paris, at the Hall 6 of the Parc des Expositions de la Porte de Versailles.

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) still does not want to hear about such a scenario. It has proposed its own alternative, Hall 4 of the Parc des Expositions de Villepinte, in Seine-Saint-Denis, a newcomer on the map of sites. An option that the OCOG did not retain.

The only basketball representative on the Paris 2024 board of directors on Tuesday, July 12, Jean-Pierre Siutat, president of the French federation and first vice-president of the CNOSF, abstained from the vote on holding the preliminary round in Lille.

The rest of the new map did not raise the same questions. The preliminary phases of boxing, sitting volleyball and the modern pentathlon fencing qualifying event will share the Parc des Expositions in Villepinte. The shooting, initially planned also in Seine-Saint-Denis, in La Courneuve, leaves Ile-de-France to land in Châteauroux, in the department of Indre.

The OCOG assures it in its press release: “the map of the reinforced sites guarantees optimal conditions of competition, the control of the budget, and preserves the heritage of the Games for the inhabitants and the territories“. The formula is written in the present tense, it remains however still conditional. In the end, the decision will be made by the IOC. It will have to arbitrate between the OCOG and FIBA. Not a simple matter.

Not simple, either, the budgetary question. On Tuesday, July 12, the board of directors of Paris 2024 also discussed figures, with the presentation of the report of the audit committee, chaired by Jacques Lambert.

Two years before the deadline, the budget remains within the limits. But the inflation holds it in sight. Tony Estanguet has been repeating it for several weeks: the inflationary risk, unimaginable a few months ago, before the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, is now very real.

The OCOG denied at the beginning of the week, during a press briefing, to have asked for an extension to the IOC to face the additional costs. But the organizers do not make mystery of it: they discuss with the Olympic authority to lighten certain constraints of the schedule of conditions.