— Published 24 April 2023

Between France and Australia, a two-way agreement

France and Australia already had in common an enviable status as future hosts of the Olympic Games. In Paris next year for France, eight years later in Brisbane for Australia. On Sunday, April 23, the two countries sealed even more solidly their rapprochement on the Olympic field.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) signed a memorandum of understanding with its French counterpart (CNOSF). It was initialed in Brisbane by Ian Chesterman, the president of the AOC, and Brigitte Henriques, his French counterpart (photo above). As proof of the importance of this agreement, the former international soccer player made the long trip to Queensland to sign the document.

Concluded for a period of more than five years, until December 31, 2028, the agreement between the two National Olympic Committees is broad and diversified. The AOC and the CNOSF plan to work together on a long series of subjects, including cooperation in the fight against doping and abuse in sport, sport-health, but also marketing and even, more novel, the organization of major sporting events.

The protocol signed on Sunday, April 23 in Brisbane should also “promote collaboration and training exchanges between Australian and French sports, to support innovative programs in the field of high performance and research in sports science.

Commented Ian Chesterman, John Coates’ successor as head of the Australian Olympic movement, “With Paris 2024 around the corner and Brisbane 2032 less than ten years away, there is much to be gained for our two bodies to work together on areas of common interest. As a member of the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOCs), we are committed to ensuring that the Brisbane 2032 Games are a home Games for all our Pacific neighbors, including the French territories. Similarly, we have a lot to learn before Paris 2024.

The same is true of Brigitte Henriques: “We are delighted to have signed the first Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian and French NOCs today and to use the Paris 2024 and Brisbane 2032 Games to strengthen our cooperation. Under the Olympic Charter, we are all committed to fair play and protecting the integrity of international sport. Our athletes are at the center of everything we do. Providing them with the best performance environment, looking after their mental health and, of course, the health of the planet, are all issues that we care about. I’m convinced that strengthened collaboration will help us achieve these goals.

Among the priorities of both countries, the realization of a program to bring together Australian and French schools. With less than 500 days to go before the Paris 2024 Games, it is still in its infancy, but both parties assure that it will be operational well before the next Summer Games. The Australians know the ropes, having set up a very similar initiative before the Tokyo 2020 Games. It allowed the establishment of exchanges between 600 Australian and Japanese schools.

The agreement signed on Sunday 24 April between the AOC and the CNOSF is not the first sign of a strategic rapprochement between Australia and France. Last July, an exchange protocol had already been signed between the Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) in Canberra and the French National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance (INSEP). The document was signed in Paris by former swimmer Kieren Perkins, Director General of the Australian Sports Commission, and former judoka Fabien Canu, Director of INSEP. It provides for increased collaboration between the Australian and French national teams, and access for Australian athletes to INSEP’s training facilities, as part of their preparation for the Paris 2024 Games.

The rapprochement also concerns the organizing committees of the Paris 2024 and Brisbane 2024 Games. Vincent Pasquini, in charge of international cooperation at the OCOG Paris 2024, explained last month to FrancsJeux: the first exchanges, still informal, have already been initiated with Brisbane 2032, especially at the level of financial management.