— Published 19 July 2023

After Paris 2024, France wants the Winter Games in 2030

Is this the first David Lappartient effect? Less than a month after the UCI president was elected head of the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF), France surprised everyone by announcing its bid for the Winter Games in a lengthy press release late on Tuesday July 18.

A double surprise: the project concerns the 2030 Games, an edition whose award has been postponed until next year after an improbable succession of withdrawals by potential or announced candidates.

Finally, and hardly less surprisingly, the project is not just being promoted by one city or valley, but by two French regions: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes on the one hand, and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur on the other.

The press release signed by the CNOSF and its Paralympic cousin, the CPSF, explains: “Laurent Wauquiez, President of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region, and Renaud Muselier, President of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region, have today expressed their wish to propose to the sports movement and the State that they submit a joint bid to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”

Not surprisingly, the four sponsors of the project – the two regions, the CNOSF and the CPSF – have carefully aligned their concept with the IOC’s new rules. Like all the others, they have understood the message, and are not shy about posing as good students: the French bid promises to respect “the challenges linked to the preservation of biodiversity and the acceleration of global warming“, it will rely on “existing infrastructures, some of which were built during the Albertville Winter Games in 1992“, and finally it will emphasize “the essential reduction in organization costs” and financing “essentially through private revenues (partners, ticketing, etc.).”

What’s next? In the immediate future, a lunch in Paris on Wednesday July 19, at the Elysée Palace, where Renaud Muselier and Laurent Wauquiez will share a meal with Emmanuel Macron, Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castera, David Lappartient and Marie-Améie Le Fur, President of the CPSF. On the menu: the Winter Games.

Secondly, “joint work” will be carried out over the coming weeks, with all the relevant government departments. The aim is to identify the strengths of the French bid, and then to “collectively reach a decision by mid-September 2023, following broad consultation.”

In the event that the project is pursued – still uncertain at this stage, but largely credible – it will be up to the CNOSF to express to the IOC its wish to begin the dialogue phase. A formal bid project will then be submitted to the CNOSF and CPSF before the end of September, before being forwarded to the IOC’s Winter Games Host Commission.

At the end of this process, explains the press release, it will be up to the IOC Executive Board to decide to open a targeted dialogue with some of the candidates, probably at its December 2023 meeting. This dialogue can only take place once the bid has been examined and supported by the French government.”

Can France win the bid? In a denser landscape, the answer would have been negative. The two French regions, long rivals on this issue, have been slow to come together. They have a long way to go.

But the successive withdrawals of the Pyrenees/Barcelona and Vancouver, followed by Sapporo’s prolonged – and doubtless definitive – pause, and finally Salt Lake City’s wish to bid for the 2034 edition, have had the effect of seriously lightening the scene.

In recent months, Sweden and then Switzerland have expressed their desire to try their luck. Both countries have entered the dialogue phase. But, like the French project, they started late and have little time to complete their file with all the necessary guarantees. The “shooting window”, to borrow a phrase from Laurent Wauquiez, remains wide open.

The two politicians already see themselves as serious contenders for victory. “Our objective is to embody this turning point in the spirit of Olympism, asserts Laurent Wauquiez, President of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. We want to create the first sustainable Winter Games. Anchored in the regions, turning the page on gigantism.” This is not a new idea, in fact it is shared by all the candidates.

We can propose a new carbon-neutral model for the Winter Olympics as early as 2030,” says Renaud Muselier, President of the PACA region.

A double coup for France? Winter in 2030 after summer in 2024? Just yesterday, the idea would have made people smile. Today, it should be taken very seriously.