— Published 10 November 2022

“Paris 2024 is both an opportunity and a threat”

A Paris 2024 effect. Among others. Since the beginning of the Olympiad, the Olympic movement has been looking towards France. The phenomenon is usual. At 624 days of the opening, it should still be accentuated in the months to come.

For the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF), the stakes are high. How can we make the most of it? What levers to activate? What events should be targeted after the Paris 2024 Games? At the helm, the president of the French Basketball Federation (FFBB), Jean-Pierre Siutat, first vice president of the CNOSF in charge of international strategy. He answered the questions of FrancsJeux.

FrancsJeux: What is the priority of the CNOSF today in terms of international strategy?

Jean-Pierre Siutat : It is diversified. A cooperation has been set up between the government, the business world and the French Olympic movement. It is called the French Sport Touch. It was launched last December. Each of them remains master of their own agenda, but with specific recommendations and a common will to share everything that can be shared. For our part, at the CNOSF, we are working on two actions. The first is the Circles of International Influence (C2I), for which we target and raise awareness among people who can at any given time be of service to France abroad. The circles are concentric. In the first circle, we find, for example, Jean-Christophe Rolland (IOC member and President of the International Rowing Federation, editor’s note), but also French people who are members of commissions of an international federation, the IOC or other structures. The network must be animated. The second action consists of training people who will play a role on the international scene, the HPI (High Potential International). Through the “International Ambition” course, the CNOSF provides them with the main principles of international relations, then targets those who could play a leading role. We should be able to present the first concrete results of this strategy in early 2023.

Does the prospect of the Paris 2024 Games facilitate closer cooperation with other countries?

We have just signed a cooperation agreement with Canada. We are concluding agreements with some National Olympic Committees. With, as a rear base, all the French national federations that may be interested in these countries. We are also trying to mobilize everyone to see what events France could host after the Paris 2024 Games. We have to choose them, then set up a strategy to get them. After the Paris 2024 Games, we will certainly have to expect a decrease in public aid. But we will have to find a way to be relevant in order to receive major events. This is a real issue.

France currently has three presidents of international federations – Jean-Christophe Rolland in rowing, David Lappartient in cycling, Luc Tardif in ice hockey – and four IOC members – Guy Drut, Jean-Christophe Rolland, David Lappartient and Martin Fourcade. Is this proof that French sport has never been so influential?

A study was made by a Nordic country on the presence of different countries in international bodies, with a points system according to the level of presence. France is among the leading nations. I am too new in this universe to know if all this is the result of specific actions. But it is certain that today we have quality people. Luc Tardif is an example. He started from nothing, he made his campaign for the presidency of the International Ice Hockey Federation in his own way, and he won even though he was not the favorite. France represents something. And we have quality people who embody a form of leadership. By targeting potential and training them, there is no reason not to continue along the same path.

Will Paris 2024 accelerate the phenomenon or should we expect a gap after the Games?

It is impossible to know today. Since the awarding of the Games, I have been saying that Paris 2024 is both an opportunity and a threat. It is necessary to identify the threats and the opportunities, then to make sure that the first ones do not come true and that the second ones are concretized. But it is certain that the opportunities exist. At the CNOSF, we are very much in demand on the subject of Paris 2024, for visits, agreements or the use of facilities.

Does France now have the ambition to organize, after the Paris 2024 Games, another major international multi-sport event?

The question has been discussed and debated, but it has not yet been decided. The Winter Games could be an opportunity. The World University Games could also be an opportunity. The question has also been raised as to whether it would be interesting to organize the Jeux de la Francophonie. The file of multi-sport events is open, nothing is decided yet. But it will have to serve a purpose, in terms of international influence or the export of French companies’ know-how.