The high-ranking delegation is led by Patrick Kanner, France’s minister for youth affairs and sport. ISPO.com talked with the minister at the beginning of ISPO BEIJING about the French capital’s Olympic bid, what France can learn from China as a sports nation and why Beijing needs a French soccer house.
ISPO.com: Minister, for the first time you are visiting ISPO BEIJING and the ALPITEC trade fair. Why did you decide to venture here and what are the aims of your visit?
Patrick Kanner: We are mainly doing this in order to show off the opportunities and the know-how of French sports companies. As a result of this we are of course hoping for a larger market share in China.
Let’s put aside your role as minister. What are the highlights of this trip for the sports enthusiast Patrick Kanner?
Personally I’m looking forward to the events with the “Institut national du sport, de l’expertise et de la performance” (INSEP, National Institute of Sport, Expertise, and Performance). With regards to this, we are opening the 4th Sport Club Francais in the French Embassy in Beijing. Likewise I am particularly excited about the opening of the French Soccer House which will represent the French football association and Ligue 1 in China.
You just mentioned the Sport Club Francais. What is the core content of this project?
The Sport Club Francais is a contact point for all French companies where they can present the know-how of the French sports industry together.
What can the sports nation China learn from France?
Football is an exceptionally growing market in China. France can already be a great example for China in this respect. We are making great efforts to hustle along the building of new football pitches in the country. For logistical questions and general know-how, we are taking an advisory role.
And in return, what can France learn from China?
The ability to mobilize people is unique in China. This ability cannot be completely duplicated in France, but certain elements are exemplary.
To what extent is your trip to China linked to Paris’ bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.
The last Olympic games in France were in 1992 in Albertville, and the last Summer games were held in 1924 in Paris. Of course that doesn’t mean that France automatically earns the right to host the 2024 games, but we are using every opportunity to find a voice for our bid slogan, “Made for sharing”. It is important for us that our endeavor to host the games is initiated not by politics, but rather by the world of sports in France.
What chances do you reckon you have for winning the 2024 Olympic bid against Los Angeles and Budapest?
All three bids are very strong and each has their own entitlement. In France’s case, the focus of the bid is very much on the budget which has been deliberately been kept low. Six billion euros is their estimation, and this should not be exceeded.
Six billion euros is, however, still a huge amount. What do you say to people who think that events such as the Olympic Games are no longer economically or ethically acceptable in a time with such large social problems?
Half of the budget won’t come out of France’s pockets. The Olympic committee, ticket sales and private donations should bring in the other three billion euros.
And the other half?
The other 50 percent will be financed by both private and public investors. This money will be used for the indoor swimming pool and the Olympic village for example. The major advantage with Paris is that almost all other sports venues already exist and nearly no new buildings need to be built from scratch.
The 5000 apartments (approx.) in the Olympic village will be turned over to the Paris property market after the games. In addition we are hoping to bring in around ten billion euros of revenue from tourism, gastronomy and other areas linked to the Olympic buzz.
Hamburg was also originally a contender for the 2024 Olympics but the bid was withdrawn after negative feedback from the citizens. How are the people accepting the Olympic bid?
The French people are backing the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris. About 77 percent of citizens are in favor of the bid. Acceptance is hugely important because the games should be a time to celebrate for the whole of France.