The Olympic Games come and go, but they are not really the same for climbing. It made its beginnings at the Tokyo 2020 Games as an additional sport, with no audience in the stands. It will retain the same status in less than 600 days at the Paris 2024 Games, but it will take place in a temporary venue capable of accommodating 6,000 spectators. Four years later, climbing will become a more permanent part of the Olympic programme at the Los Angeles 2028 Games.
At the helm of the discipline for the Paris 2024 OCOG is Frenchman Vincent Causse. FrancsJeux continues its series of interviews with the sport managers of the next Summer Games.
FrancsJeux: What was your life before the Paris 2024 OCOG?
Vincent Causse: I joined the Paris 2024 OCOG in May 2022, after 23 years with the French Mountain and Climbing Federation (FFME). I joined during my national service. I finished as director of the competitions department, in charge of climbing and ski-mountaineering events. At the same time, I became international technical delegate for the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC). As a passionate and practitioner climber for some forty years, I feel that I have accompanied the evolution of climbing and have been very involved in its Olympic history.
What has been your past experience of the Olympic Games?
I have never participated in the Olympic Games, but I have lived through the Tokyo 2020 Games by proxy. Through my French colleague, the international technical delegate, who went there for the Olympic events, but also through the coaches of the French team. I also shared a lot with the FFME colleagues who had the opportunity to take part in the Games for the CNOSF within Club France.
Do you have any special memories of the Games?
I am a native of Grenoble, so I was immersed in the Olympic atmosphere from birth. I have two very strong memories of the Games. They are very different and very far apart in time. The first one goes back to the Montreal Games in 1976, with Guy Drut’s victory in the 110-metre hurdles final. I was only six years old, but the image has stayed with me. The second memory is much more recent, as it is the women’s climbing podium at the Tokyo 2020 Games. The three medal winners, Janja Garnbret, Miho Nonaka and Akiyo Noguchi, were in tears. I was very touched by their emotion.
Which file is at the top of the pile on your desk?
A very technical file, which concerns the architectural layout of the structure that will cover the climbing walls at the competition site in Le Bourget, in Seine-Saint-Denis. I have the particularity of wearing two hats within the OCOG, sport manager and event manager. I am therefore responsible for setting up the site and its installation, and I have to decide where to find the right places. The three climbing walls, 15 to 16 metres high, will be covered by a mega-structure.
What are the assets and challenges of the climbing site in the perspective of the Games?
Le Bourget site will be temporary, for the Olympic competitions and the entire operational part. However, it was conceived and designed in a spirit of legacy for the city and the department of Seine-Saint-Denis. Once the Games are over, we will leave Le Bourget with a new, restructured sports park, with tennis and football pitches, an athletics track, plus of course a gymnasium with a 50-metre wide linear climbing wall and three competition walls. With such a facility, up to national and international standards, the local club can become one of the most dynamic in France. As for the mega-structure that will be installed on the site for the Games, we want it to be aesthetic and architectural. Like the Stade de France, it should be visible from a great distance.
Paris 2024 will be a success for climbing if…
I am very attached to the emotion of sport and the Olympic Games. For the athletes, of course, but also for the spectators, volunteers and staff. The Games will be a success if medallists cry tears of joy on the podium, if the spectators leave the competition with even bigger smiles than when they arrived, and if we manage to share fully with volunteers and the whole organising team very strong moments experienced behind the scenes. I would like all the participants be able to say with pride in 20 or 30 years’ time: “I was there”.