Paris 2024 Bid Co-Chair Says French Youth Believe Sport Can Help Preserve “Nation of Freedom”

Paris 2024 Co-Chair Tony Estanguet meets with Generation 2024 members at French Olympic Headquarters (Paris 2024 Twitter Photo)
Paris 2024 Co-Chair Tony Estanguet meets with Generation 2024 members at French Olympic Headquarters (Paris 2024 Twitter Photo)

In a gathering of young people in the French capital Tuesday that served to launch the Paris 2024 Olympic bid public engagement process, a message that sport could help guide the nation through troubling times was shared.

In the first of a series of meetings in a process designed to gather 100 ideas from across the country to integrate with the Paris 2024 project, 150 people under the age of 25 met at the French Olympic headquarters with bid Co-Chair Tony Estanguet to discuss themes of the bid.  The group dubbed “Generation 2024” by the bid committee shared several ideas and thoughts about the project that will be integrated with others across France before results are analyzed in September.

Estanguet said it was a crucial moment for Paris 2024.

“To start with youth was very important for us because they are the ones who will be part of potential Games in Paris,” Estanguet said on a call from Paris Wednesday.

“They were really concerned about the global aspect of the bid – they really want to spread the values of Olympism in the French society because they know the values, they know the excellence, the respect, the friendship – these kinds of values.”

When asked if there was dialog around the coordinated November 13 terror attacks that took many young lives in the French capital Estanguet said that the group was more forward-looking.

“They are not in a fear position – they don’t fear about the future.”

Wednesday is International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, a program led by Monaco-based Peace and Sport under the Patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert.  Attendees at the meeting were eager to get involved.

“They believe more than ever that they need to be active, they have to push to make sure that France will remain this nation of freedom, and they never spoke about security or terrorist attacks but what they proposed is probably a reaction [to them].

“They believe that the values of sport and Olympism are probably a great tool for us and for our nation to live together, to welcome the world in our capital.  So even if they didn’t speak about it I think they are concerned about how the power of sport can be used to help France to evolve in the best manner.”

Estanguet admitted that the public engagement is based on learnings from previous French bids including unsuccessful campaigns lodged by Paris for the 1992, 2008 and 2012 Games and a lost Winter Games bid by Annecy for 2018.

“From the beginning of this bid we were concerned about this engagement and how we can really tackle this in the best manner.

“When we looked back on the previous French bids we realized we could improve a little bit on this engagement strategy, so this is the result of learning about the previous bids and also defining the best strategy to win this time.

“It’s not just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it’s okay if you have ideas, don’t hesitate to share it.

“We want to share the bid with all the people of France and we believe this is the best way to do it.”

Paris is facing off against Budapest, Los Angeles and Rome to host the Games in 2024.  The International Olympic Committee will choose a winner September 2017.

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.

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