— Published 24 February 2023

Agen, the modern asset

Agen, the prefecture of Lot-et-Garonne, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, has long given its passion for sport the oval shape of a rugby ball. The local club, SU Agen, has eight French championship titles in its trophy room, from the pre-war period to the late 1980s.

But the prospect of the Paris 2024 Games has given the city and its municipal team a taste for the Olympics. Four of its sports facilities have been classified CPJ (Center of preparation to the Games) by the OCOG. A little more than 500 days before the event, the city dreams of hosting at least one foreign team or delegation to prepare for the Olympic or Paralympic competitions in Agen.

The explanations of the assistant to the Sports of the city, Alain Klajman.

FrancsJeux: What is, in detail, your offer of CPJ?

Alain Klajman: It is very varied and multi-sports, since it is declined on four sites and 11 disciplines. In Agen itself, the Armandie Stadium has been classified as a CPJ for rugby 7s. Also in the city center, the municipal stadium offers a platform that can be used for basketball, a field for para fencing and a dojo. The Aquasud swimming pool and its modular main pool can be a high-level facility for Paralympic swimming. Finally, the Jacques Clouché sports center (COJC), located in the neighboring town of Boé, has a multisport platform, a gymnasium and an outdoor archery range.

What are the assets of these facilities and of the city of Agen?

First of all, the modernity of the sports facilities. The Armandie stadium was refurbished last year, with new stands, a treatment room, a weight room equipped for re-athletisation, a hammam, hot and cold baths, a sauna… Everything is ultra-modern and of high level. In Boé, the COJC’s main platform has also been refurbished. At the Stadium, we are going to redo the basketball court and the lighting of the hall, for a delivery in May or June. As for the swimming pool, it has one 50 m pool which can be reduced by half, either to its full width or only in part, thanks to a removable wall. But our assets are not only sportive. Agen is a very nice and friendly medium-sized city, where a lot of things can be done on foot, without wasting time on transportation. The city is also very sporty, by tradition – the rugby club has been eight times French champion – and by the practice of its inhabitants. Today, we have more than 7,000 members of sports clubs for 33,000 inhabitants. Finally, its geographical location is also an asset, 3 hours from Paris by direct TGV, halfway between Bordeaux and Toulouse, and therefore less than an hour’s drive from the airports of these two cities.

How do you plan to support the reception of foreign delegations before the Paris 2024 Games?

We will prepare a reception worthy of the name, as we know how to do in Agen. We really want to integrate these athletes, wherever they come from in the world, as if they were inhabitants of the city, by involving the population as much as possible in the adventure. Their comfort and calm will be respected, they will even be a priority, but we would like that the young people of the sports clubs and the youth centers can possibly, on occasion, attend a training and exchange with the athletes. We will do everything to make them feel at home and take with them a bit of the French soul when they join Paris for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

What impact/legacy could hosting foreign delegations have for the city of Agen beyond the Games?

The arrival of one or more foreign delegations would leave a historical trace, for sure. But we would also like it to arouse sporting vocations within our community, to make as many people as possible want to take up a sport. For this, we will do everything to integrate these athletes into the life of our city.

What kind of delegations do you hope to receive?

With our rugby history, a rugby 7s team would be ideal. But we would be delighted to welcome swimmers, fencers, basketball players… Participating in one way or another in the adventure of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games would be fantastic. All the athletes of the world will be welcome in Agen.