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Macron wants Paris Olympics to turn France into a sportier nation

/ 07:59 PM October 15, 2021
Paris 2024

FILE PHOTO: Olympic rings to celebrate the IOC official announcement that Paris won the 2024 Olympic bid are seen in front of the Eiffel Tower at the Trocadero square in Paris, France, September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday he hoped the 2024 Paris Olympics would give a huge boost to participation in sport in France.

“The aim is not simply to get medals, it will be to put sport at the heart of the nation,” Macron said, as he visited Olympic building sites and existing sports facilities in northern Paris.

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Macron said 200 million euros ($232 million) of funding would be made available to create up to 5,000 new sports facilities for public use by the time of the Games.

Macron, who is widely expected to seek re-election next year, was criticized for comments he made after this year’s Tokyo Olympics when he urged French competitors to win “many more” medals in 2024 than the 33 they won in Japan.

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That haul, which included 10 gold medals, was nine medals fewer than France won at the 2016 Rio Games.

The president says France should aim to finish among the top five nations in the medals’ table at the Paris Olympics — in Tokyo they were eighth in terms of gold medals but tenth when ranked by total medals won.

He said: “We took stock and went again. That is what every coach does every day with their team, it’s what high-level sport is all about. I didn’t see many athletes shaken by what I said.”

Accompanied by now-retired French NBA star Tony Parker, Macron also visited the construction site for the Olympic Athletes’ Village in Saint-Ouen in northern Paris and was expected to take part in a football match later in the day.

“I will try to make a good showing,” said the 43-year-old president.

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