More than 120 local elected officials from Hautes-Alpes support the French candidacy – Sport & Society

2023-09-17 11:39:25

Fifteen years following the candidacy of Pelvoux-Les Écrins for the French nomination for the organization of the 2018 Winter Games, the Hautes-Alpes are once once more starting to dream of hosting the global event and this, in part of a larger project covering the French Alps as a whole.

View of Parc de la Schappe in Briançon, Hautes-Alpes, in December 2021 (Credits – City of Briançon)

In 2030, the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games might take place in the French Alps with the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region to the north and the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region to the south.

On both sides, institutional players have been at work for months, joined since this summer by the French Sports Movement which intends to take advantage of the dynamics of the Paris 2024 Games to raise the tricolor colors high with the aim of obtaining the Winter Games for the first time since the 1992 Albertville edition.

Also, the territories concerned are trying to stand out in order to be featured in fine on the mapping of a concept which must still be presented to the Future Host Commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by November 2023.

With this in mind, the Hautes-Alpes hope to be able to play a role as demonstrated by the column published this week in the columns of the regional daily, “Le Dauphiné Libéré” as well as on the local antenna of “I said BFM”.

Alongside the President of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur Region, Renaud Muselier, some 122 mayors, municipal councilors, departmental and regional elected officials, and even parliamentarians from Hautes-Alpes are mobilizing to support the Olympic and Paralympic ambition, but also to make their voices heard.

In this one-page document titled “We, mayors, parliamentarians and elected officials of Hautes-Alpes support the candidacy of the French Alps to organize the 2030 Olympic Games”the signatories first recall the genesis of a project carried out since 2022 by the President of the Region, to then discuss the reasons for such an undertaking.

As the article mentions in particular:

The Games are an opportunity to breathe new life into our infrastructure, our development, our tourist and permanent accommodation, and our accessibility!

Yes, the Games are also a legacy and this is above all why we support this candidacy with all our strength.

Renaud Muselier, President of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur Region (Credits – CNOSF / KMSP)

If the elected officials do not talk regarding hosting competitions, they do however address the environmental question, with the vision of Games in the heart of the mountains, but also the no less sensitive subject of transport, with the hope that the potential arrival of Games in the Alps leads to renewed interest – and in fact additional investments – to resolve existing local problems, whether on the Gap-Grenoble link or on the Briançon-Marseille railway section.

The initiative is carried here by political actors from the territory, with a strong presence of elected officials from Briançon and Embrun, an initiative which should however not cause the parties to fall back into the past failings of previous French candidacies, with the exception of Paris 2024 who knew how to learn certain lessons from failures and the right place in the political sphere.

In 2008-2009, the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) embarked on the adventure of the Games even though the conditions were clearly not met to ensure success. The political world had largely occupied the field of the contenders – Annecy (Haute-Savoie), Grenoble (Isère), Nice (Alpes-Maritimes), Pelvoux-Les Écrins (Hautes-Alpes) – before parasitizing the serene development of the project selected around of Annecy which, poorly put together, had experienced a harmful change in governance and late adaptations of the concept.

Faced with the great favorite of the time, PyeongChang (South Korea), Annecy had therefore come close to correction, narrowly passing the threshold of the petition phase, to finally fail heavily by 7 votes, once morest 25 for the rival European Munich (Germany) and 63 for the Asian winner.

Prior to this historic fiasco, the French selection had seen four projects compete, including the one which appeared to be the “little thumb”namely Pelvoux-Les Écrins.

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Deliberately presented as a “candidature nature”the latter was to lead in particular to the establishment of an Athletes’ Village in Briançon, within former military barracks, with also the location of the ice hockey events in an ice rink to be built with 12,000 seats.

Serre Chevalier would have been the setting for a large part of the alpine ski competitions and the accommodation for members of the Olympic Family.

Among the other sites mentioned at the time, the Lac de Serre-Ponçon – or Saint-Crépin – were brought forward to host the opening and closing ceremonies, while curling would have taken place in Barcelonnette and freestyle skiing in Risoul , figure skating and short-track speed skating having been offered in Embrun in a 10,000-seat ice rink.

Finally, given the lack of suitable infrastructure, ski jumping and Nordic combined, as well as bobsleigh, luge and skeleton, would have been located on the other side of the Alps, in Italy.

Mapping of the sites presented by Pelvoux-Les Ecrins for the French candidacy for the 2018 Winter Games (Credits – Pelvoux-Les Écrins 2018 / Archives)

Today, the context has changed.

The rules of the game have been profoundly overhauled by the IOC, now with a phase of continuous dialogue then a phase of targeted dialogue, both of which make it possible to break down ambitions between the present, the interest of the parties involved and work over a longer period of time. The number of candidates has also evolved in recent years, with the observation of greater reluctance for the Winter Games. Also, the new version of the selection process aims to enable the development of concerted projects in the territories and with the Olympic institution.

For 2030, the French Alps possibly have a card to play, even if the proximity to the Paris 2024 Games might be a weakness. Likewise, the perseverance of the European competitors Sweden and Switzerland might weigh in the balance and in the future choice of the IOC, unless the demons of these two serious rivals resurface, namely a recalcitrant public opinion and support failing institutional.

Elsewhere in the world, Japanese ambition around Sapporo seems to have integrated the fact that 2030 is now a race out of reach due to the setbacks noted over the past year due to the revelations regarding Tokyo 2020.

There remains the case of Salt Lake City (Utah, United States) which, obviously, is the best armed and most prepared candidate, following more than ten years of reflection and study. Although preferring to focus on the 2034 edition, the Host City of the 2002 Olympic Games was also available to the IOC to rekindle the flame in 2030.

For the French candidacy, one of the keys will certainly lie in the mobilization or not of athletes, and in particular major figures in winter sports, in order to somewhat erase the political dimension which has emerged so far, between the personal investment of leaders of the two Regions mentioned and the commitment of the State to support the candidacy, with the hand of the President of the Republic.

The place of athletes must be affirmed and embodied, with politics remaining in logistical support.

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