— Published 7 March 2022

Estanguet respects IOC’s call


Prevented from going to the Beijing Olympic Games after testing positive for COVID-19, Tony Estanguet is taking advantage of the Paralympic Games to discover the Chinese way of organisation. Currently in China, the president of the Paris 2024 OCOG commented to AFP on the IOC’s recommendation to international federations to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes from competitions. A call that the three-time Olympic canoeing champion considers “courageous”. “I respect this appeal, he said. Because I know that this decision is far from simple for the world of sport, which traditionally tries to preserve athletes and keep them away from the consequences of political decisions as much as possible. The world of sport, quite unanimously and collectively, wanted to react to this war. I think it’s good to see the world of sport able to step out of its usual position and make an exceptional decision in an exceptional situation. It’s difficult, though, because we know some of these athletes. We know that they have little to do with it. But it’s a courageous, strong decision that we must respect. Because the world of sport must also contribute to this international effort to find all the solutions to restore peace. Asked about the consequences that the conflict could have on the Paris 2024 Games, Tony Estanguet did not wish to comment: “The war started 10 days ago. It’s too early to project ourselves into 2024.” The OCOG president also took advantage of his stay in China to reaffirm his ambitions for the Paralympic Games in 2024. “Since the beginning, we have set the bar very high in terms of ambitions with a common logo, with a common French team, he explained to RMC Sport. There is really the objective of putting the Paralympics on the same level as the Olympics. With a really tailor-made treatment. There is still a need for education and pedagogy around Paralympic sports, needs of valorization and communication around this event. But there is room to organise incredible Paralympic Games that I think will leave a legacy because many will be surprised by the quality of the athletes and the emotions transmitted.”