— Published 20 July 2023

For the 2030 Winter Games, France gets off to a flying start

No time to lose. The French bid for the 2030 Winter Games is the last to enter a race whose casting and route are still highly uncertain, but it seems determined to get off to a flying start. Let’s be clear: it really has no other choice.

The day after the surprise announcement of the joint project of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regions, the first pieces of the puzzle have already been assembled. The sense of urgency is not misleading: France believes it can pull off the upset, provided it looks like a commando unit.

On Wednesday July 19, Emmanuel Macron hosted a luncheon at the Elysée Palace for David Lappartient and Marie-Amélie Le Fur, respectively President of the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF) and President of the French National Paralympic Committee (CPSF), Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, the French Minister for Sport, the two presidents of the regions concerned, Laurent Wauquiez for Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Renaud Muselier for Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur, and the Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi.

Clearly, the lunch resulted in a shared desire to give it a go. David Lappartient told L’Equipe: “The President of the Republic immediately confirmed to Thomas Bach the agreement in principle of the State“. Cool.

Without taking the time to let the dust settle, David Lappartient hastened to send the IOC President a very official letter confirming and formalizing the French project for the Winter Games in 2030.

Next week, the president of the CNOSF, who is also an IOC member and head of the International Cycling Union (UCI), will convene a meeting of the presidents of the French winter sports federations.

David Lappartient reiterates: there is nothing symbolic about the French bid. It’s designed and built to win.

Credible? Jean-Claude Killy believes so. The three-time Olympic champion at Grenoble 1968, co-organizer with Michel Barnier of the Albertville 1992 Games and honorary member of the IOC, explained to the daily Le Dauphiné: “As long as it’s not a political bid and we’re not pleasing our friends, as long as we choose one leader and one leader alone, as long as we put sport and the environment at the heart of the project in a compact and intelligent package, France has a chance!

But Jean-Claude Killy insists that the case must be very solidly put together. “We have to work out a financial package with the taxpayer, he explains. We’ll also have to respect a few rules and checkpoints with the IOC. For the events, we have to distribute the ice in the city and the snow in the mountains. When I say compact, I’m thinking of efficient links like those between Milan and Cortina for the 2026 Games. I repeat, France has a chance as long as a few conditions are met.

Popular support? It remains highly uncertain, especially in inflationary times. But the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region commissioned an opinion poll last year, when it was considering going it alone. It suggests an initial trend.

In particular, the survey measured public interest in the Winter Games, in the broadest sense of the term, without specifying an edition or even suggesting a bid by the region. Only 48% of respondents said they were interested (30%) or very interested (18%). In the opposite camp, 51% of those polled expressed disinterest in the event.

Asked the same question, but this time only to the residents of Haute-Savoie, Savoie and Isère – the three departments most involved in winter sports – the response was very different. More than half of those questioned – 60% – declared an interest in the Winter Games (37% interested, 23% very interested).

With a year to go before the decision, announced by the IOC for the Paris session in July 2024, France is certainly not starting out beaten in advance. But Jean-Claude Killy sums it up well: it will have to meet certain conditions.