the Olympic torch relay will mobilize around sixty departments, but arouses tensions


Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay, on July 23, 2021, in Tokyo, before the opening ceremony.

For the Pas-de-Calais, it is signed. The department will be one of the official stages of the Olympic torch relay, between April and July 2024. Jean-Claude Leroy (Socialist Party, PS), the president of the departmental council, and Thierry Rey, special adviser to the Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Cojop) of Paris 2024, initialed, Wednesday, November 23, an agreement which records this future passage.

Two days earlier, the Vendée had done the same. Like other departments in recent weeks. In total, about sixty of them (out of 101) responded to the call for candidates launched by the Cojop to be associated with this relay which will travel through France. The exact list of these stages departments will not be communicated until the beginning of 2023 and it will be necessary to wait until mid-2023 to know the precise details of the route – the objective being to pass through around 700 cities.

In the official narrative of the Games, this torch relay symbolizes “sharing the Olympic spirit”. This is what is expected in Pas-de-Calais: “We are in the land of simple people who love popular sports. The Olympics are exceptional, a march that we cannot miss, a proposal that makes sense”, explains Ludovic Loquet, vice-president in charge of sport and major sporting events.

The speech is identical in the northern neighbor. “We must take advantage of these kinds of events to win people over, to show the love we have for the values ​​of Olympism. It is a chance ! », advance François-Xavier Cadart (various right), vice-president of the departmental council delegated to sport.

“For a one-day event, it’s a huge sum”

The setting up of the relay did not arouse such support everywhere. Several departments have ostensibly refused to join in: Creuse was the first to announce it, followed, in February, by a dozen other communities. At the heart of this refusal: the 180,000 euros (all taxes included) to be paid to the Cojop. “Simply impossible”notes Marie-Christine Bunlon (Les Républicains, LR), vice-president of the Creuse council in charge of sports.

“The flame at the Pont du Gard, the image would have been beautiful. But for a one-day event, it’s a huge sum,” supports Vincent Bouget, departmental councilor of Gard (led by a union of the left), sports delegate. “And that’s not counting the events to organize, which means that you can easily reach 250,000 euros”, adds the president of the Haute-Vienne council, Jean-Claude Leblois (PS), for whom “commodify” the passage of the flame appears contrary to the Olympic values”.

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