Olympic games - Remarks by President François Hollande
Remarks by President François Hollande during the visit to Paris of Mr. Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee
Dear Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee,
We are very happy to welcome you here once again to the Elysée, in the company of government ministers, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Ile-de-France Regional Council President Valérie Pecresse, and the presidents of Paris 2024, because it will not have escaped your attention that we are candidates for Paris 2024! We wanted to surprise you with this event!
We also applaud the National Olympic Committee president Denis Masseglia, Paralympic Committee president Emmanuelle Assman, and the many other companies, sponsors and organizations that support our Paris 2024 candidacy.
You have here before you Team France—not the entire team, because we could have brought together even more people, but the team that is mobilizing on behalf of this candidacy. I know you have begun visiting Paris—you already know Paris very well because you are a friend of France and you come to Paris and Ile-de France quite often—but this is not a tourist visit or even a gastronomic visit (although nothing was missing in that regard). You are here to see the various locations and sites where the International Olympic Committee could decide to stage the 2024 Olympic Games.
It was very important for us to demonstrate what we already have in terms of considerable infrastructure—we already have the locations that could host major competitions and plans for the Olympic village, for a certain number of competitions that could be held here in Ile-de-France. We haven’t yet taken you to Marseille, but that will come, because Marseille is connected to the Paris candidacy, given that there are a certain number of competitions that will be held there. [...]
You have here Team France, in the sense that these are athletes who are supporting our candidacy, these are not officials—these aren’t the President, the Prime Minister, or figures who aspire to lead France. All of France has rallied around these athletes, demonstrating a unity that is incredible. You know that in France—it is quite different for other countries—but in France, there are always susceptibilities, differences, rifts in political families, with a certain number of philosophical currents, but if there’s one subject that unites all of France, it’s our candidacy for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. It’s very important for you to understand and be aware of this, because it’s an incredible enthusiasm and commitment that we’re seeing.
In the beginning, we had to give it some thought—could we really present a proper candidacy? But the day it was decided to apply, a bloc formed that, as you will see, is indestructible, allowing France and Paris to enthusiastically support this candidacy.
What are the arguments? I’m not going to go into them here, it is the athletes themselves who are best qualified to tell you that, but we want this candidacy to revolve around innovation, and I think many companies could attest to that. Innovation in every area: culture and heritage, because this is Paris, this is France; and environmental excellence, because it was here in Paris that the climate agreement was signed, an agreement that will enter in force by the end of the year, given the number of ratifications that have already been submitted.
Secondly, because the values shared by France and the Olympics are the same and we applaud with equal vigor the values of respect, universality, fraternity and the contribution sport can make, especially for young people. You also wanted to give this priority to the candidacies that were to be submitted, you wanted to ensure that young people are the generation that gets excited about the Games every time, that young people all over the world have the same desire to share the emotions and the successes and to be able to offer hope in a world traumatized by intolerance and hate, a common hope through the Olympic Games.
We also want to remind you, as you know, that France has the capacity to host major events, most recently Euro 2016. We have hosted 40 world and continental championships across all sports over the last few years. Not only do we have the capability, the expertise and the technology to host major events, we are also able to ensure their security.
Security was one of the issues we were asked about and that was perfectly reasonable when we met in Rio. France’s team had already met there and presented all of the arguments in support of Paris and security. We were able to ensure the security of all the events that I talked about. Security is our top priority, everyone understands why, I don’t know what the world will be like in 2024 but it’s bound to be dangerous, and no country, no capital can believe that it will be protected or immune.
We’ve been faced with this reality for a long time, but we are well placed to be able to protect an event like the 2024 Olympic Games and, if I may say so, because of the events that have taken place, we’ve had the kind of preparation that no other country has had, given what we’ve been through and the resources we’ve made available. I’m certain that, beyond the elections that will take place between now and 2024, all French presidents will be committed to continuing what we have started, in the wake of many decisions. Not that security should be the only issue but it is a key condition that we must fulfill for all athletes, all sportsmen all over the world and we can do it.
We can do it because we also have an approach to security that involves giving every man and woman a place in society, a role that we believe is a precondition for our co-existence: good citizenship. We want to share all these values and that’s why I’m delighted that you are able to join us. You have always shown your support for us at difficult times and times of joy, because you were also there for COP21; you have always supported the Olympic movement and we value that; you lit the flame of hope each time, so forgive us for saying: if the flame of hope could be the Olympic flame in 2024 then we would be delighted to welcome it.
Thank you Mr. President!
I have a gift for you; I’ll leave you to see for yourself but it has a few links to the Olympic Games.
THONMAS BACH: It’s the Olympic flag! We’ve already carried it together, haven’t we?
PRESIDENT HOLLANDE: It’s the Olympic flag from almost a century ago, at least it will almost be from a century ago in 2024, when Paris hosts the Olympic Games!
Photo : Présidence de la République - N. Bauer