Paris 2024 Olympic Games Philippe Rio: “We must affirm the right to sport in the same way as the right to education, housing, health or employment”

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Is the Paris 2024 Olympics a lever for a “better life” in Île-de-France?

Philip Rio No so far. Because many of the cities called Terre de Jeux 2024 make sense of hosting a planetary event without taking the opportunity to “build a nation” through sport. But this other approach would allow us to use the Games as a diplomatic and political event aimed at mending fractures in France through sport. Sport is a vector of national reconciliation, a remarkable machine of integration. The leading party even in France with 17 million members!

Were the Olympic cities you were one of the promoters created to put sport back at the center of public policy?

Philip Rio They were born in the continuum of the 2017 suburban lure, aimed at defending working-class neighborhoods in the face of budget cuts. Four years later, in October 2021, a collective of elected officials – Catherine Arenou, various right-wing mayor of Chanteloup-les-Vignes (Yvelines) (DVD), Guillaume Delbar, mayor of Roubaix (North) DVD, Benoît Jimenez, The centrist mayor of Garges-lès-Gonesse (Val-d’Oise), the mayor of PCF Allonnes (Sarthe), Gilles Leproust, and I – organized the National Council of Solutions (CNS) to share ideas in the field, and above” is not working. A toolbox of experiments from communities to change the lives of the residents of working-class neighborhoods. And keep pressing the executive. The first measure of the CNS: the creation, in partnership with the French Judo Federation, of 100 solidarity ojos across France in empty spaces abandoned by social property owners. With the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games approach, our collective has implemented the concept of “Olympic cities” to develop sports practice among youth from disadvantaged areas. The Olympics should be a real springboard for elected officials and benefit working-class neighborhoods.

You are even talking about a sports zone project…

Philip Rio We have big plans for everything in France, but we have no means to plan a region’s sporting strategy. But sport can be an important lever for neighborhood-to-region land use planning. Especially in the working-class towns of the Île-de-France where we lack infrastructure. Paradoxically, we see the greatest shortage in Seine-Saint-Denis, France’s youngest region. The Olympics should enable a national sports project to be structured and grown. Sports should no longer be the 5th wheel of our public policies.

What is the concept of “Olympic cities” based on?

Philip Rio The “Olympic cities” are designed on the model of education cities, one of the rare criteria of the Borloo plan adopted by the government. We want to gather the state, local governments and associations around the same table. Concretely, this project proposes a common framework and goals for all sports actors around five main axes: training of actors and athletes in the making, dissemination of sports equipment, participation through sports, strengthening sports in and around the school, and building a new school. Economic model for local sport.

You even talk about the “right to exercise”…

Philip Rio As with the French cultural exception, France must arm itself with a strong movement of sporting exception. We must collectively reaffirm the right to sport, such as the right to education, employment, housing, health… Sport is an inclusion tool that fights against social, gender and regional discrimination. However, the right to do sports means tools and equipment. And if our working-class neighborhoods are major suppliers of top athletes, they have, on average, a third less sports equipment than the rest of the district. As a logical result, the rate of sports licenses is 11%, compared to 34% for the rest of the country. There is no elite sport without amateur sport. One cannot exist without others. Therefore, the 200 million euro envelope for 5,000 new infrastructure announced by Emmanuel Macron as part of the Paris 2024 momentum is not at the level of needs and shortcomings.

What do you mean by “continuity of sport”?

Philip Rio In our Olympic city, cities aren’t just the lessor of gyms and swimming pools! Even in association clubs, they have strengthened their ties with national education to create a sporting continuum from school time to extracurricular activities. The city is responsible for taking on this fluid management for the youth. Again, sport is more than just sport, especially in popular cities. It can change their way of life. We learn fraternity, self-confidence, respect, humility and solidarity on a field… Sports is a great vector of social bonds, education, training and integration. He understood their potential role in mediating with many clubs, schools and families and invested in social activities and helped with homework. In our cities, the problem of education is increasingly at the center of sports clubs projects, which means increasing skills in sports supervision.

Is sport a way to fight poverty?

Philip Rio Certainly ! In Grigny, 50% of the population lives below the poverty line. So when the city calibrates the cost of a license between 0 and 50 euros, it offers families the opportunity to play one or more sports, leave their homes, stand shoulder to shoulder with the collective, learn. Sport is an indispensable complement to the education of children and citizens. It is also a tool for living better together. That’s why we’ll organize our Games too! Starting this summer, the Youth Olympics, organized in partnership with ten sports federations, will be held in working-class neighborhoods.

Interview conducted by Marie-Stéphane Guy


Download 24 pages of our special Olympic Games 2024 supplement as PDF from Humanity Magazine.


What is the Terre de Jeux label?

Paris 2024 beats home: these Games will be the games of all of France. The promise came true with the Terre de Jeux 2024 label, a unique system in Olympic history that supports local governments and structures of the sports movement working for a more advanced and inclusive sports practice. The label unites a community of actors convinced that sport changes lives. More than 2,800 communities and structures are certified and share their experiences, projects and actions in favor of sport.