Presidential: sports, the permanent absentee

Despite the two-year Olympics in Paris, sport remains absent from presidential election debates, a constant for a theme that is not very divisive and has never really been at the center of political debate.

The war in Ukraine has monopolized many nationals in France for days. But even before the outbreak of this international crisis that inevitably stifled political debate, sport seemed to have had no place, however small, in these presidential elections.

“There are few topics at the center of national debate today, apart from the Ukraine issue. We could have expected, two years after the Olympics, that they would be a problem, but they are not,” explains the director out. of the Harris-Interactive polling station, Jean-Daniel Lévy.

– “Sport has its place” –

But is it really new?

“No. Sport has been absent from the political debate for years,” laments Lionel Jospin’s former sports minister, Marie-George Buffet (PCF). A statement also pointed out by French Olympic Committee (CNISF) chief Brigitte Henriques, who said sport is “too often” a “minor theme of the presidential campaign”, at a forum in Le Monde in late February.

In recent years, the themes have often revolved around safety or the economy. Public policy issues in sports have never surfaced.

Presidential: sports, the permanent absentee

“The sporting dimension is little discussed two years before the Olympics, that’s true, but is it so abnormal?” asks Jean-François Lamour, former Minister of Sport under Jacques Chirac, nevertheless considering that “sport is always a managed to take place”.

“Are the French telling us today that sport is a topic that is missing from the campaign? No,” assures the director of the Harris-Interactive Institute Jean-Daniel Lévy, a reading contradicted by a recent poll BVA, for whom almost a third of the French want sport to become a campaign theme.

However, in the programs of the twelve candidates, a few lines appear here and there, with huge differences, the candidate LR Valérie Pécresse and the candidate of the Greens Yannick Jadot stand out from the others with more substantial proposals.

Presidential: sports, the permanent absentee

At his first campaign rally in Poissy, Emmanuel Macron mentioned the generalization of 30 minutes of physical activity in school for 6-12 year olds at the start of the next school year, a system that has been tested for two years.

“There are two topics today, about the future of the National Sports Bureau (ANS), the contours of which are difficult to see today, and the sporting reality at school,” Lamour estimates.

– “Money-time” –

Presidential: sports, the permanent absentee

If, in the microcosm, the question of the future of the ANS, which Valérie Pécresse wants to see disappear, for example, or of its corollary, that of the survival of a Ministry of Sport, can give rise to discussion, these questions interest the the general public according to most of the actors interviewed by AFP “Too technical”, Lamour sums up.

The ANS, founded in 2019, benefits from the appropriations previously transferred to the Ministry of Sport and is responsible for implementing the high-level policy and that of sport for all.

Presidential: sports, the permanent absentee

“The problem is that if we follow this line of reasoning, we shouldn’t talk about culture, research or justice either, because it’s not in the priorities of the French,” said Marie-George Buffet.

“Often we thought that sport was the paragraph we add at the end of a program. But with the Olympics, we should have aligned the planets. Here we are in the money time,” summarizes Régis Juanico, Deputy Générations., together. member of Yannick Jadot’s campaign team.

Presidential: sports, the permanent absentee

The candidates were invited on Thursday by several representatives of French sport to present their program at the headquarters of the CNOSF. An exercise to which only Valérie Pécresse, Yannick Jadot, Fabien Roussel and Anne Hidalgo have responded for the time being.

“It’s very thin, and that says a lot about the place of sport in society,” lamented an elected official. Except that this exercise will hit another oral, slightly more anticipated Thursday, that of Emmanuel Macron, who will present his project for a second five-year term.