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Olympic Games 2024: local elected officials fear a post-Olympic “hangover” for sport

This fear has been palpable for several weeks. She is pictured by David Lazarus (various left), mayor from Chambly (Oise): “There is a risk of a huge hangover in October 2024”fears the one who is also co-president of the sport and Olympic and Paralympic Games commission of the Association of mayors of France and vice-president of the National Sports Agency.

While France is still in the preparation phase for the 2024 Games (July 24 to August 11 and August 28 to September 8), it is the period following the Olympic and Paralympic summer that is causing apprehension. That of having to deal with a disillusioned tomorrow.

Like Mr. Lazarus, many elected officials – as part of their local functions in touch with the reality of the sports association world, or acting as relays for it – express the same questions: “Was the increase in appropriations for sport in the run-up to the Games just a flash in the pan? »as said by Senator Jean-Jacques Lozach (PS), rapporteur on the sport part of the finance bill for 2023, the examination of which began in the Senate on Thursday, November 17.

The appropriations of the Ministry of Sports and the Olympic and Paralympic Games have increased from 1.08 billion euros in 2021 to 1.13 billion this year, and will stand at 1.15 billion in 2023. “The risk is great that once the Games are over, the budgetary light will go out on the sports scene”, warns MP Claudia Rouaux (PS), rapporteur on the draft sports budget.

“New discussions, new arbitrations”

The apprehension of a post-Olympic depression is fueled by the trajectory traced by the government for the next three years: the credits devoted to sport (excluding the Games) should record “a 20% drop” between 2023 and 2025, notes Senator Claude Kern (UDI-Centrist Union).

“If the state ever withdraws from supporting sport for all, we risk dropping out” at the municipal level, warns David Lazarus. “Sport must remain at the heart of our model of society. Because sport is good for your health, living together, socializing, respecting the rules… We have a fine model that holds up, because the everyday elected officials have not given up. »

Concerns are all the more acute since, even if Emmanuel Macron, with the prospect of the Olympic Games, considers that sport “it’s super important”as he said in June when announcing the extension of the Sport Pass to scholarship students (allowance of 50 euros for the acquisition of a license), the start of his first five-year term has struggled to show it. “It was a missed opportunity, with declining budgets the first two years”, recalls MP Stéphane Peu (PCF).

“The evolution of credits in 2024 and 2025 is a presentation for information only, and this will give rise to new discussions, new arbitrations”, argued the Minister of Sports and Games, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, during a hearing in the Senate on November 2.

Call for a “Marshall plan” for sports equipment

In an attempt to dispel fears, the Minister highlights the actions “in favor of sport around and at school” (thirty minutes of activity at school, two more hours at college) and those concerning healthy sports: “sustainable transformations that will not stop, whatever happens after the Games”.

But elected officials ask above all for stable means, “to develop a long-term sports policy”, insists the senator Claude Kern. “A multi-annual orientation and programming law for sport would be a strong signal”, supports Claudia Rouaux, who calls for “a major Marshall plan for the construction and renovation of sports facilities, with an envelope of 500 million euros per year”.

Welcoming the implementation, at the end of 2021, of the Macron financing plan (200 million euros) of five thousand local facilities (multisports platforms, 3 × 3 basketball courts, skate parks, etc.) by the OJ 2024, elected officials are calling for the continuation of significant material investments. With an urgency: build structuring facilities (stadiums, gymnasiums, swimming pools) and renovate those that exist. “A quarter have never been modernized, although they are over forty years old”recalls Jean-Jacques Lozach.

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The National Sports Agency (ANS) has been tasked with identifying the places and target sports for priority investments in structural equipment. “There will be the need to have a very careful look at the end of the Games on this equipment to, if necessary, calibrate a support plan”agrees Amélie Oudéa-Castéra.

The urgency of thermal renovation

The challenge of renovating sports equipment, particularly swimming pools, has become even more important with the rise in energy prices.  In the photo, children from disadvantaged neighborhoods dive as they learn to swim as part of a social project

With the rise in energy prices, however, the issue of renovation has already taken on even greater importance. “We have old and energy-consuming equipment. We need a real emergency plan for bioclimatic renovationpleads David Lazarus. With soaring energy prices, there is the risk of having to shut down equipment to save money. »

The thermal renovation plan, launched by the government, is supposed to respond, in part, to this challenge. “There is a dynamic going on”advance Mme Oudéa-Castéra, which highlights a “first envelope of 50 million euros having financed 166 projects in 2021 with a projected average reduction of 48% in annual energy consumption”. Fifty million euros are still committed for 2022 and 2023.

As regards the thermal renovation of swimming pools alone, 12 million euros have been released. Thirty projects have been supported by the ANS. “There is the will to continue this effort”, explains the Minister, who also wishes “find synergies with the Green Fund, created to support local authorities”. Endowed with 2 billion euros, this fund should be used to renovate public buildings.

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For David Lazarus, the renovation effort for sports equipment should not be “not melted into the Green Fund, but earmarked and entrusted to the ANS”. “Elected officials must not be forced to have to choose between school, Ehpad or sports facilities”believes the mayor of Chambly.

Faced with fears of a post-Olympic depression, the sports minister considers that the various actions undertaken testify to “the conviction, at the highest level of the State, that sport is a fundamental tool” and that they “aim precisely to avoid backsliding”. Butme Oudéa-Castéra also warns that there will be a “see you in 2024” for “a review of the effectiveness of our sports policy and our sports model”. If, as she assures, “the light will not go out when we close the Games”it remains to be seen what the intensity will be.

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