champions dodge match

And where are they? Not in the meetings, nor on the support lists for the candidates that can be searched in vain this year. The 2022 presidential election will be played without athletes, retained by other professions.

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It’s been a long time since Jacques Chirac was able to showcase a “high-level athlete support committee” chaired by the ice dancer and vice world champion Sophie Moniotte during his 1995 campaign. Where Nicolas Sarkozy started at his side in 2007 with many former glories such as Alain Prost, David Douillet, Bernard Laporte, Richard Virenque and many others. In 2012, François Hollande benefited from the reinforcement of a hundred athletes and coaches behind him from the first round. Emmanuel Macron was able to pull off a list of only 60 names in 2017, but let Marine Le Pen block before the second round.

Positions that are too radical are scary

And then this year, nothing. Gloomy plain. “Behind this phenomenon we can read the end of the traditional parties, who with their many militants tried to recruit in all areas of civil society, with real efficiency for the Socialist Party, the RPR, then the UMP, and even the left front in 2012analyzes the sociologist William Gasparini, professor of sports science at the University of Strasbourg. Athletes, like many artists, have moved from a partisan commitment to a more civic commitment, in favor of the environment, sports health, or other more identity-based battles waged by American champions serving more and more models to us. †

This change, four-time Paralympic wheelchair tennis medal winner Michaël Jéremiasz measures it perfectly. Il s’était engagé derrière le Parti socialiste en région Île-de-France il ya une quinzaine d’années, puis avait conseillé François Hollande à sa demande pendant son mandat, avant de s’investir en 2017 pour faire parler du handicap dans it country. Asked this year, he preferred to decline. “I no longer find this ‘political family’ side that has previously prevailed and is disappearing in favor of multiple camps lost in a deeply divisive campaign and on themes that I find sickening, judges the ex-champion. Athletes inevitably feel less need to jump in suddenly, especially because of the blows to be dealt with, with increasingly violent reactions. †

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Social networks have been there. Champions are no longer reluctant to show their social commitment in favor of big common causes. Defense of the environment, support for the Uyghurs, the Ukrainian people, the fight against racism, homophobia. “The sponsors who sponsor them have also fully understood that their champions have an interest in positioning themselves for these great goals, emphasizes William Gasparini. On the other hand, other topics are not covered, especially for fear of a volley of green wood on social networks: secularism, for example. On a campaign like this year with sometimes very radical positions, they prefer to abstain from voting. †

The social impact of sport is undervalued

Which does not mean that athletes leave the political field. “In municipal elections or other local polls, on more concrete and local issues, the champions are hesitant to join us, notes Patrick Appéré, Deputy Mayor of Grenoble and since 2020 President of the National Association of Elected Officers in charge of Sports (Andes). But there they are much less comfortable in a campaign where we are more for a very partisan election than an election of values. And all the more since they realize that sport is not one of the main concerns of the candidates. †

Michaël Jéremiasz, member of the Paris 2024 Athletes Commission, also regrets the lack of visibility of sports themes in the campaign, barely two years before the next Olympic Games in the capital: “Athletes know very well that sport is a wonderful tool to have a transversal impact on our society, in terms of health, inclusiveness, the fight against inequalities, but they also see clearly that national policies in this regard are not This campaign shows once again that France is not a sports country. That sport doesn’t have a lot of space in the programs, and probably not enough in the media. How do you expect athletes to go after candidates who ignore them? is quite catastrophic.”

Sport, the rural poor relationship

On March 17, the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF) organized a “grand oral” at its Paris headquarters for the candidates for the election to present their sports programs. The institution had invited eight of them, who wanted to receive them personally and no representatives. Result: barely three moved: Anne Hidalgo, Yannick Jadot and Fabien Roussel. Sports leaders pretended to be pleased, not without remembering to wake up, as the 2024 Paris Olympics will take place at the heart of the next five-year term. “We want to see the maximum of our proposals appear, especially after the campaign. There is an urgent need to change things.” said Brigitte Henriques, the president of the CNOSF, hoping not to regret a missed opportunity tomorrow.

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