“If France shines abroad by its thinkers, its scientists, its artists, it must also shine by its sportsmen. A country must be great because of the quality of its youth and one cannot conceive of this youth without a sporting ideal.”

(Charles de Gaulle)

The Olympic Games that will take place in Paris will be a major and beneficial event for France. It will have a positive impact on its international image and its attractiveness to tourists.

Paris has already hosted the Olympic Games twice, in 1900 and 1924. At that time, the organization of this competition was not considered an important issue for politicians. In 1900, the government’s priority was to organize the Universal Exhibition and the Games were considered a side event. However, things evolved since then and all the recent presidents, Chirac, Sarkozy, Hollande and today Macron, mobilized themselves to obtain the Games for Paris. Indeed, Paris will host the Games in summer 2024.

The Olympic Games, a major geopolitical stake progressive

Since the end of the Second World War and the entry into the Cold War, the Olympic Games have taken on an important geopolitical dimension. The choice of the candidate cities began to be influenced by the political considerations and the mediatization of the competition increased. For example, the choice of Helsinki in 1952 was made to allow the USSR to participate, the choice of Tokyo in 1964 was linked to the will to ask forgiveness for the Second World War and to the recognition of the economic dynamism of Japan. The Games of Mexico in 1968 were an opening towards the third world, while those of Munich in 1972 aimed at reconciling the East and the West.

It can be considered that the turning point occurred with the Games of Hitler in Berlin in 1936, but it is also necessary to take into account the political contexts at the time.

Today with the conflict which takes place in Ukraine the question turns around the acceptance of the Russian athletes in the competition as formulated it Anne Hidalgo during a press conference at the beginning of 20231.

The political instrumentalization of the Olympic Games culminated with the Games of Moscow in 1980 and Los Angeles in 1984, boycotted respectively by the United States and the USSR. The Games have sometimes been used as a scapegoat for political tensions. For example, President Carter asked American athletes not to go to Moscow, but continued to ship wheat to the USSR. However, there are also cases where the Olympics have been used to facilitate diplomatic relations. The 1988 Seoul Games were a turning point in relations between the United States and North Korea, and the 2008 Beijing Games were a key moment for relations between China and the Western world.

Since then, the Olympic Games are considered a major geopolitical issue for the countries that host them. Candidate cities must take into account political and diplomatic considerations, as well as economic and infrastructure capacity. The organization of the Games can also be used to show the strength and power of a country, as well as to promote its political and economic interests.

 Soft power

In conclusion, international sport, which was once a passion, a prestige that gives hope, is now used as a political dimension that has become a real lever of state power that is used by public authorities.

We see this through the Olympic Games, strongly influenced by political and diplomatic considerations, as well as by the will to show the strength and the power of a country. The Games can also be used to facilitate diplomatic relations and to promote political and economic interests.