At D – 2024 days of the Olympic Games in Paris, Thursday, January 10, Tony Estanguet, the President of the Organizing Committee knows that the year 2019 will be decisive for the organization of an event that goes beyond the scope of sport. For him, Paris 2024 must show that sport is a strong solution to bring together French people who are often divided.

The Cross: Sixteen months have passed since September 13, 2017 and the award of the 2024 Games in Paris. These Games have disappeared from the radar of the news in recent months. The time is no longer in the files, but in the concrete decisions. Where are you ?

Tony Estanguet: The year 2018 was used to achieve things that are not very visible, but essential. The main executives of the Organizing Committee were hired, an Olympic law guaranteeing public funding was adopted by the parliament, the budget was refined, among other things thanks to a rigorous report from the court of auditors who helped us in particular to revise the Olympic swimming pool project. The last major issue to be settled is underway, it is to determine the sports guests, who will be there in addition to the official program.

The petanque wants a place in the sun of Paris 2024

We will propose a list of up to five disciplines meeting specific criteria imposed by the IOC (see below). We also slightly modified the site map, which has been validated by the International Olympic Committee. In short, everything is ready, now we will roll up our sleeves to achieve these Games, we have always wanted "different".

How will they be different? Is the formula of the Games not immutable?

T. E.: Paris has an extraordinary advantage over the cities that preceded it, all sports facilities are already there or almost. The only two projects to be completed are the swimming pool, which was sorely missed by the population of Seine Saint-Denis. And a room of 7,000 seats (intermediate format between the Accor Hotel Arena and Coubertin) that was already scheduled. We are therefore free from construction worries, which leaves us free to do the most spectacular Olympics in history.

OJ, Paris-2024: risks of additional costs estimated at 500 million euros

The idea is to bring out the sporting festival stadiums, to organize a huge popular event in the fantastic setting we have. We will use the Invalides, the Champ de Mars, the Grand Palais or the Palace of Versailles and the Bay of Marseille for sailing … We want to write for the generation of today a story she will remember all her life. The Barcelona Games of 1992 played this role for my generation, for the next, there was London …

Leave a good memory to the youth, then?

T. E.: Of course, but it goes well beyond that. The Olympics go beyond sport. We want to take advantage of the remaining 2024 days to raise a movement around health, well-being, solidarity, education, social inclusion. All clubs, associations, local authorities, public or private social actors will be solicited. They will enjoy a label that we will put in place, it's unpublished. These Games must be those of cohesion, hope, national pride. We will be the center of the world.

Paris 2024 plays the card of solidarity jobs

Let's not forget that in a troubled period often won by pessimism, sport is one of the best solutions to social malaise. This goes beyond the tens of thousands of jobs that the Games will generate, of which 10% will come from the social and solidarity economy. These numbers are being refined, but there will be between 150,000 and 200,000 direct jobs, including 4,500 for the single organizing committee in recent months. We are also working on the necessary training so that these jobs benefit the people of Seine Saint-Denis, especially the most vulnerable.

The criterion of success is therefore after Paris 2024.

T. E.: Our ambition is that these Games allow France to give the best of itself. I believe it, I always believed it, even in difficult times. Everyone predicted that the attacks of 2015 were going to make the bid unsuccessful, it did not happen. Of course, everything will not be easy, we will have problems, we will certainly be questioned. It's already happened, it will happen again, it's the game. But I'm convinced of one thing: together the French are unbeatable.

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No e-sports at the Paris Games

As in every edition, the Paris Games will host sports called "guests". The question is which of the five disciplines invited to Tokyo in 2020 (surfing, skateboarding, baseball, climbing, karate) will remain on the program for 2024. The Paris organizing committee will propose its list at the end of March to the IOC, which will decide than in 2020.

For the first time, the athletes of the invited sports will be counted in the maximum tonnage of the 10 500 selected athletes. The chosen disciplines will have to be the least consuming possible in number of athletes. Surfing and climbing hold the rope, but e-sport (video games), a time mentioned, is not eligible because its federation is not admitted to date within the IOC.

Interviewed by Jean-François Fournel