POSTED: February 12th 2011

Sarkozy, Jouanno say France will bid for 2020 Olympics if Annecy fails

Chantal Jouanno: French Sports Minister / lake images
Chantal Jouanno: French Sports Minister / lake images

KEIR RADNEDGE in Annecy / Sports Features Communications

ANNECY, Feb 12: President Nicolas Sarkozy told the Olympic leaders checking out Annecy’s bid to host the 2018 Winter Games that, even if they lost, France would continue to bid for future events. This, inevitably, means a campaign to bring the summer Games to France in 2020.

The French government’s determination was underlined by Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno on the concluding day of an evaluation inspection by the International Olympic Committee. Annecy faces competition from PyeongChang and Munich when the IOC votes in Durban on July 6.

Sarkozy met the commission at La Chusaz, one of the proposed Annecy competition villages, on Friday. His visit was a public confirmation, to both the IOC and the bid committee, of full state support for the bid, albeit better late than never.

Jouanno said: “The President told the members of the commission he was very proud to host them and he would have done so even if France had not been a Games candidate because the IOC is the equivalent of a government. To show them how positive he is about sports he told them how he got a ticket and went to Munich to see the Games in 1972.

“He finished by telling them that if we didn’t win we would be sad but we would accept it as a good decision. If they wanted to chose a new region that would be good because sport is universal but we would still be a candidate for future Olympic Games.”

Asked whether this was a signal that France would certainly bid for 2020 and with Paris again, she added: “If we don’t win, we would probably bid for 2020 because it would have been too long since France organized the Olympic Games. As for Paris, well, we have many cities who would like it.”

Political involvement

Paris was beaten narrowly and notoriously in 2005 by London when the IOC voted in Singapore on the 2012 host. Jouanno blamed the failure on top-heavy political involvement and interference.

She said: “Maybe it’s the French character. We want a drama in whatever we are doing - like the French Revolution. Seriously, often in France political leaders want to take the lead in everything. This was the problem with Paris. Firstly, we had too many political leaders and, secondly, we were sure we were going to win. That is not the case today with Annecy. Quite the contrary.”

One of the reasons Jouanno identified for the early confusion in the bid campaign was a swing to the opposite extreme, with state involvement excluded. However she then had to step in at the end of last year when the effort teetered on the brink of collapse with budget concerns and the resignation of general director Grospiron.

Jouanno said: “Grospiron left because it had been hard for him to be both general director and to promote our candidacy internationally. He couldn’t do both, it was impossible. That’s why I wanted to organize things, to have a businessman [Charles Beigbeder] at the head.”

She said she had rejected advice from “many people” to scrap the bid. Jouanno added: “This was impossible because we had already spent E18m to be in a crisis situation and we would been the only country ever to retire five or six months before the end – and this is not the spirit of sport. You always compete, right to the end, even if you are injured.”

Keywords · IOC · 2018 Winter Olympics · Annecy · Sarkozy · Jouanno

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