— Published 26 October 2023

“Proposing a revolution for the Winter Games”

The IOC made it official at its 141st Session in Mumbai in mid-October: a double vote will decide next year whether to award the Winter Games in 2030 and 2034. For the second edition, Salt Lake City has already almost won the race. The American city may even be the only one in the running. For 2030, on the other hand, the battle is still very much up in the air between Sweden, which was the first to bid, Switzerland and its national project, and the two French regions, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (AURA) and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA).

At the helm of the French bid is David Lappartient (photo above). The President of the UCI and the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF) seems more committed than ever to a campaign in which the next few weeks promise to be decisive. He answered FrancsJeux‘s.

FrancsJeux: What’s the current status of the French Alps’ bid?

David Lappartient: We’re making good progress. The future hosts’ commission will hear us on November 21. Before that, we’ll have to submit the final dossier, probably on November 7. We have already submitted a pre-file to the IOC on Friday October 13. The Executive Board will meet from November 29 to December 1 in Paris. It will decide with whom to pursue the targeted dialogue phase. We’re right on schedule.

Did the pre-filing submitted to the IOC include a map of the sites?

Of course it did. I can’t reveal it yet, as we’re still making progress. But apart from two elements, everything is set. The division of sites between the two regions is very balanced. Discussions were held with the regional presidents and elected representatives. We looked at sites that had already hosted world championships, and those with approved facilities. It’s no secret that the bobsleigh will be at La Plagne. Our approach was to use either existing sites or recognized expertise. The subject of the speed ring remains unresolved. We have two options: a temporary site, like the Palais des Expositions, with enough room for an oval, or to go abroad. Both options are open, but we probably won’t have the answer when we submit our application.

What’s the status of the budget?

It hasn’t been established yet. We don’t want to give a budget too early. The mistake would be to announce it without having quantified all the elements. Candidates sometimes tend to minimize the cost during the bid phase, and then people say that the Games cost more than expected. My approach is to plan for the Games to cost as little as possible, but also to announce the most realistic budget possible.

Who is currently working on the bid?

A small team. I’m very involved myself, notably in relations with Renaud Muselier and Laurent Wauquiez (presidents of the PACA and AURA regions), with the French government and with the federations, as the bid is legally supported by the CNOSF. I spend a lot of time on this. At the CNOSF, we have four people working on it, two of them 100%, plus the managing director and the advisor. The two regions also have a small team. In all, around ten people are working on the project. Apart from Vincent Jay (Olympic biathlon champion in 2010), who joined the AURA region for this bid, the people were already present. We’ll be announcing the cost of the bid at a later date. It will be historically low.

Is the IOC’s decision to hold a double vote from 2030 to 2034 to your advantage?

Yes, I think so. At the time of the award, at the end of 2024, there will only be a little over five years left before the Games. That’s a very short time. This double vote gives the IOC some breathing space. And with it, the athletes and federations. For bids, it also gives more space. Instead of four bidders for the 2030 edition, we are now three plus one.

You’ve always shown great confidence in this bid. Is that now on the rise?

We’re confident because we have a good bid. But we have serious competitors. Sweden and Switzerland are technically serious countries that know how to organize major international events. I have no doubt that they’ll be able to put together a good bid. We need to highlight our qualities, including France’s decision-making capacity. Our decision-making system can sometimes be more efficient, as can the commitment of the French government and local authorities, particularly in financial terms. We also have economic market depth. A third of our budget is to be found in the private sector. For that, we need economic resources in the country. For this, we undoubtedly have more opportunities than our two competitors.

Opposition is being voiced and heard in the two regions concerned, notably from environmental associations. Is this an obstacle?

Jean de la Fontaine used to say: “You can’t please everyone and their father”. There will be people against the Olympic Games, against the very principle of the Games. I respect their point of view. We won’t be able to convince them. But I want to tell them that the Paris 2024 Games mark a real transition in the Olympic model: cheaper, more sustainable. This is even truer for the Winter Games. With the two regional presidents, we went to see Emmanuel Macron to explain to him that we won’t be building any new facilities, unless there is a need for legacy issues. Paris 2024 marked a revolution for the Summer Games. The idea is to play the same role for the Winter Games. To propose a revolution ourselves. We have carried out surveys. In the AURA region, the support rate is 81%, so a very large majority. We mustn’t forget that democracy is also about the majority.