the group stage of the basketball tournament will be held in Lille

We are fixed, finally. Two months after the start of the controversy, the Paris 2024 Olympic Organizing Committee announced that the group stage of the basketball tournament would be held in Villeneuve-d’Ascq. No Bercy then, but the relief of a curtain drawn on a subject that had become public order, which ended up tensing up, annoying, and even worse, dividing.

The ins and outs.

Several years ago, the promise of a Bercy. Four months ago, a shed. A nice shed, eh, but a shed nonetheless. Last March, basketball France protests against this assignment for the group stage of its Olympic tournament. How to host Team USA – “Gods of the Olympics” according to Nicolas Batum – in Hall 6 at Porte de Versailles? The ceiling is certainly of regulatory size, validated by the specifications, but too little. If at the end of a silver medal in Tokyo and at the dawn of the biggest basketball event that France has hosted, questions are asked related to logistics as well as the image reflected, it is that the choice is not the right one. For a big week, the media storm then did the job of the Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (OCOG) which ended up, under obvious pressure, by giving up the Porte de Versailles. But absolutely nothing comes of this decision. For more than three months – from the end of March to the beginning of July – no information was communicated on the location of the group stage of the basketball tournament. Two years from the opening of the Paris 2024 Games, if only to prepare the infrastructure and that the conurbation concerned can work in depth, it is a bit short. This situation is actually due to a standoff between FIBA, certain executives of the French team, and the Olympic organizing committee, chaired by Tony Estanguet. To summarize all this in Twitter language: Evan Fournier wants Paris, the organizers prefer… Villeneuve-d’Ascq.

A first outstretched hand with the abandonment of the Porte de Versailles. Two would have been a lot. Last Tuesday – and although the map of competition sites not yet up to datethe OCOG has announced that the preliminary round of the Olympic basketball tournament will indeed be played in Lille (Villeneuve-d’Ascq), in the Pierre Mauroy stadium. The controversy is over, end of the trip, the orange ball will not move. However, we mention a part of the text, little relayed, which still conditions this officialization: “the preliminary phases will take place at the Stade Pierre Mauroy, in Lille, subject to validation and the necessary agreements”. What is this last point worth? Is she as frivolous as the “may contain traces of nuts” on absolutely all everyday foods? It is rather a real way to protect yourself in the event of a red light from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It is currently impossible to find a way into the office of Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, to verify whether the formalization of this formalization is only a matter of time. But by announcing Pierre Mauroy, the COJO clears itself of all responsibility in the event of yet another pirouette. The final verdict will come whatever happens from the IOC.

And Lille, from a basketball point of view, what is it worth? Above Pierre Mauroy hover our old ghosts. The painful memory of a lost EuroBasket semi-final on September 17, 2015, after a meeting with Pau Gasolesque. But the expression “painful memory” must, however, be qualified. When 26,922 spectators make the trip, the memory is never really painful. The sports parenthesis was, but with several years of hindsight – and therefore good digestion – the atmosphere has largely swept away the rest. Specialists, confirmed, novices and even people who thought that we whistled the offside in basketball, gathered to witness a moment of history. A Marseillaise sung loudly, solidarity, sharing and hands on the shoulders of guys we didn’t know. No matter how much nostalgia embellishes the memories, the one we have of this France – Spain is not truncated. It even pushes us to affirm that once again, the North will rise to the occasion.

“I don’t care if we play in Lille, I played there at Euro 2015 already. It’s one of the biggest hits of my career. – Nicolas Batum, July 2 in The Big Mouths of Sport on RMC Sport

Nice tirade by Nico Batum to accompany this amateur video, oh so gripping, taken during the Marseillaise on September 17, 2015. It’s not Bercy – it will be for the finals – but it’s already very good. So yes, some will cringe, but this formalization of the OCOG brings at least a little serenity to “only” 742 days of the opening of Paris 2024.

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