Paris 2024: Are we ready to make the Games a springboard for our soft power?

The speech of the President of the Republic to the sports medalists returning from the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which provoked a lot of reactions, was a real “battle noise” in preparation for Paris 2024. In the process, the Minister of Sports launched ways to improve international coordination with the French National and Sports Committee, Then the state allocated 10 million euros for the benefit of the performance of our athletes. These decisions are going in the right direction. However, are we ready for 2024?

Vincent Berthew and Jean-Baptiste Gigan


If no one has any doubts about practical organization and safety, or about the investment of our athletes, are we ready to make the Games a stepping stone to our soft power? The Club France initiative attempted to provide answers with ten proposals.

Sport is a major component of soft power politics insofar as it reveals the traditional power of nations, and their global ranking. However, the sports sector today in France does not benefit from enough political, governmental, institutional or university support and recognition to turn it into a tool of influence, attraction and influence.

Many countries have made sport a major asset. There is no shortage of examples from the United States, including Israel, Qatar, Rwanda, Russia, and Great Britain, not to mention China. The United States, China and Russia are the best example of this. Each of them ranks in the top 5 of the countries with the largest Olympic medal purveyors. The Americans, with the sound of basketball, have conquered a global audience and enhanced their image in the world. By hosting the Games in 2008, China proved to the world that it was more than just its “factory” but that it was modern, highly competitive, innovative, brilliant and would soon become a dominant power.

reputation. On the contrary, the Peng Shuai case is a serious stumbling block a few weeks before Beijing 2022 which could do great damage to a reputation already tarnished by the epidemic. Russia has also made sport a cornerstone of its diplomacy. First under the Soviet Union, which wanted to prove to the world the superiority of the communist model, and then it was preserved under Vladimir Putin. This has made sport a major component of its politics both domestically and internationally. And his method works. Between 2010 and 2020, Russia became the country that hosts the largest number of sporting events. Regardless of the competitions, they are organized as geopolitical and prestigious events, aimed at making a lasting impression.

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If there is an example for France, it is that of the United Kingdom. On the other hand, because our neighbor achieved an exceptional Olympic Games in 2012 by the quality of the event but also by its impact on British global appeal and the promotion of London as a global city. The transformation of the capital had a major impact on tourism and its ability to attract top talent in the years that followed. Another strategic choice made by the British was to seek performance by making a rational choice to support athletes and athletes who are able to regain Olympic medals. In fact, sporting success is an essential dimension of successful sport diplomacy. For comparison, the UK has been systematically occupying the top five in the last Olympics since 2012. During the Tokyo edition, Great Britain won 65 medals against France’s 33!

In 2024, the Paris Olympics will focus all eyes on our country. In this context, the performance of our athletes is essential for French sport but also for the power and influence of the country and its unity.

Sport is a tool and a lever in the service of politics and not just a recreational or economic sector. Ignoring the ability of sport to play up representations of who we are outside today does not mean understanding the way the world works. There is no doubt that the international reputation of our country depends on sports.

In 2024, the Paris Olympics will focus all eyes on our country. In this context, the performance of our athletes is essential to French sport but also to the country’s ability to influence and influence and its unity.

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The meager record of our delegation in Tokyo prompted us to review our strategy. With the National Sports Agency, we finally chose a similar path for the British. The performance and resource review segment has been reorganized upwards with an additional support of €10 million to be invested as a priority to win more medals. But will we be able to create new heroes in less than three years?

French brand. A sector estimated at 2% of GDP and over 450,000 jobs, not counting the weight of volunteering, sports are a neglected heavyweight in our economy. Sans parler de toutes les retombées directes qu’il engendre dans le domaine touristique avec l’accueil de grands événements, ses retombées indirectes sont colossales du point de vue réputationnel et not commercial en montrant la qualité d les de compré actrês our community. The sport in itself is a perfect display of French knowledge and who we are. It serves both the French brand while being a strong component of the national cohesion policy.

To achieve this, we will first need to change mindsets over the next three years. It is a real culture shock that our decision makers need. Strengthening the professional training of leaders in the public and private sectors is essential to consider sport in all its dimensions, particularly geopolitics.

Another imperative is to acquire ambitious sports diplomacy with strategy, means, and goals. If Laurent Fabius was known in his time to give a real boost during his time at the Quai d’Orsay, the test hasn’t changed. However, it is necessary to mobilize our resources and our diplomats to promote France and assert our interests in and through sport. For example, we suggest creating about ten custom jobs on the Audiovisual Collaboration Extension model.

Among other methods, it should be preferred to structure a true francophone sport through the organization of francophone federations within professional federations. This must be accompanied by real action to influence in favor of joining international organizations and federations.

Strongest growth before Covid, global sport accounts for 1.2 trillion euros. In addition to awareness, we call on all stakeholders to join forces to ‘search in clusters’ internationally with the launch pads that make up our diplomatic offices and associated organizations facing the world such as the Chambers of Commerce Network

In general, the sports sector should be revisited as a strategic sector. Strongest growth before Covid, global sport accounts for 1.2 trillion euros. In addition to awareness, we call on all stakeholders to join forces to ‘search in clusters’ internationally with the launch pads that make up our diplomatic outposts and associated organizations facing the world such as the Chambers of Commerce Network.

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strategic assets. In addition, we propose a reversal to protect French sport from over-reliance on foreign investment. It is a strategic asset, it is an essential component of the national heritage, and it enhances national cohesion and our influence in the world. It seems necessary to obtain means to control foreign investment in this field.

Finally, we can count on the community of French abroad involved in sports. Whether they are professional athletes, coaches, entrepreneurs, sports sector executives or leaders of local sports federations, they can all be our best ambassadors and make sports a true asset to our country and society.

In our foreign policy and the narrative we give the world, sport must have a leadership role driven by the commitment of all public and private actors. This mobilization will be instrumental in helping our athletes win, our companies exporting themselves and the world of sport as a continuum of our diplomacy and our relationship with others.

Paris 2024 is a historic opportunity to seize! French “strength sports” should become a reality and everyday life, not a talisman.

Jean-Baptiste Gigan and Vincent Bertiot

crazy about sports

Vincent Pertiot Specialist in public affairs. French abroad first in Asia and then in Europe, co-founder of the Club de France initiative in 2019. Consultant and educator in sports geopolitics, Jean Baptiste Gigan He is the author and director of several books on sports and its issues such as The geopolitics of sport, another interpretation of the world where Football investigation, the inside story of football in Russia (Brial / Study Drama).

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