‘French Olympic movement must focus on Games’

Published May 26, 2023
Head of Paris 2024 Olympics Tony Estanguet, President of Greater Paris Metropolis Patrick Ollier, Valerie Pecresse, head of the Paris Ile-de-France region, Brigitte Henriques, head of the CNOSF, attend a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, September 29, 2022. — Reuters
Head of Paris 2024 Olympics Tony Estanguet, President of Greater Paris Metropolis Patrick Ollier, Valerie Pecresse, head of the Paris Ile-de-France region, Brigitte Henriques, head of the CNOSF, attend a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, September 29, 2022. — Reuters

LAUSANNE: The French Olympic movement must “focus” on the preparations for the 2024 Games in Paris, an IOC spokesperson told AFP on Thursday hours after Brigitte Henriques’ surprise resignation as National Olympic Committee (CNOSF) president.

The Olympic body “calls on everybody to take responsibility so that the internal arguments that have affected the CNOSF these past few months cease”, the spokesperson said.

Henriques’ resignation will not affect the organising of the Games which is handled by the Paris Olympics organising com­mittee, headed by France’s three-time canoeing gold medallist Tony Estanguet.

The sporting world’s quadrennial global showpiece gets underway on July 26 next year and runs until Aug 11.

Henriques’ dramatic resignation at the committee’s general assembly comes after a year-and-a-half of internal squabbling and a very public disagreement with her predecessor Denis Masseglia.

Henriques had insisted prior to the assembly she had no intention of resigning but to the astonishment of the attendees she said she would step down on June 29.

She had taken a few weeks off at the end of 2022 to recover after her right-hand man Dider Seminet had been cast aside in September but the atmosphere had not improved when she returned to her post.

The CNOSF general secretary Astrid Guyart will act in a caretaker role until a new president is elected “in the next three months”, the body said.

“There have been no winners today,” French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera told AFP after Henriques’s announcement.

She added, however, there could be “a victory, that of ethics and democracy”.

Oudea-Castera added she had summoned the board of the CNOSF to meet with her next Tuesday to clear the air and plot the way forward.

Henriques’s resignation was broadly welcomed by the presidents of the French sports federations.

“It is a courageous decision which will certainly diminish the ongoing conflicts as we were spiralling out of control,” handball federation president Philippe Bana told AFP.

The resignation of Henriques — a former vice-president of the French Football Federation — is just the latest drama to affect French sports in the past year.

Several federations — football, rugby, gymnastics and tennis — have become embroiled in scandals.

There have been two high-profile resignations as a result — football’s octogenarian president Noel Le Graet went in February following accusations of sexual and psychological harassment.

Former sports minister and French rugby coach Bernard Laporte also quit his role as president of the French Rugby Federation in January after being convicted of corruption — months away from France hosting the men’s Rugby World Cup.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2023

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