— Published 4 November 2022

Host cities move forward together

The actor is still little known, but he is no obscure supporting actor. With less than a year to go until the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France (8 September to 28 October), and 663 days to go until the opening of the Paris 2024 Games, the next few months will be intense for the host cities. But they can rely on an association, created on the model of the “Club des sites” of the Euro 2016 football tournament in France.

Its name: Territoires d’événements sportifs (TES). Chaired by Mathieu Hanotin, the mayor of Saint-Denis, it brings together elected officials and technical directors of the cities in charge of the next major international sports events organised in France.

Originally, it was created for the Rugby World Cup 2023, with the same cities as for the Euro 2016 football tournament, minus Lens and plus Nantes. Then its scope was extended to the Paris 2024 Games. It now has two colleges, each dedicated to one of the two major upcoming events.

What is its role? It is threefold. Antoine Chinès, the association’s national coordinator, explains: “We bring together cities and towns for negotiations with the organising committees, based on the principle that we are stronger together. We also pool the work and data relating to the delivery of the event, notably through the production of content. Finally, we carry out strategic monitoring of future bids for our member cities.”

In addition to its year-round coordination work, Territoires d’événements sportifs brings its members together three times a year for two-day meetings. The next one takes place this Friday 4 and Saturday 5 November, at the Vélodrome national de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, then in Saint-Denis. On the agenda are exchanges with Prefect Ziad Khoury, national coordinator for the security of the Paris 2024 Games, with the head of the Olympic Intelligence Centre, and also with Etienne Thobois, the director general of the Paris 2024 OCOG, and Julien Collette, his counterpart from France 2023.

The list of host cities shows a strong contrast between the most important ones – Paris, Lyon, Marseille, etc. – which have long been familiar with the rules of major international sports events , and municipalities of more modest size and experience, such as La Courneuve, Colombes or Paris Vallée de la Marne around Vaires sur Marne.

“This is the whole point of the association,” suggests Antoine Chinès. “The bigger ones can help the smaller ones with their experience. But we distinguish three categories of cities: founding members, i.e. the 10 cities of the 2023 Rugby World Cup; active members, who have at least one major sports facility capable of hosting an international event; and finally temporary members, smaller cities less accustomed to sports events that join to prepare for one specific event.”

Despite the recent turmoil at the organising committee, where the director general, Claude Atcher, was pushed out, the 2023 Rugby World Cup looks like a classic event for the host cities. A stadium, two teams per match, celebration areas. The Paris 2024 Games, on the other hand, promise to be more complex.

We are trying to act as a transmission belt between the organisers and the cities,” continues Antoine Chinès. “Our relationship with the OCOG works both ways. By talking to us, they can pass on messages. On our side, we can alert them to potential problems relating to all the issues that impact the host cities and their responsibilities.”

As the host cities can testify, the first years of the preparation of the Paris 2024 Games have long followed the smooth course of a quiet river. “Relations with the OCOG were mainly focused on Paris and Seine-Saint-Denis,” admits Antoine Chinès.

But the new budgetary situation, imposed by a very tense economic context, heralds more turbulent times. The national coordinator of TES makes no secret of the fact: “The tightening of the screws undertaken by the OCOG will not be without effect on the cities. With less to grind, discussions and negotiations will be more difficult. All the grey areas concerning the responsibilities of each party will be the subject of more complicated exchanges. The cities are becoming aware of the reality of the costs ahead.”

Who will pay for what? With less than two years to go, not all the grey areas have been cleared. The cities are aware of this. But they are moving forward together.