Laura Flessel, French Minister for Sport
Ten years already. For ten years the Sport and Citizenship Think Tank has been asking questions, thinking, and creating networks involving public authorities, the economic sector and the voluntary sector in order to define what sport should represent in society and in Europe.
This is no mean challenge at a time when Brussels seems at best to be far removed from everyday concerns and at worst to be responsible for everything that is wrong. Bringing Europe closer to French people is a key issue for President Emmanuel Macron. Your Think Tank understood very early on that sport could contribute to this. Sport can indeed help all our regions and all our fellow-citizens whatever their origins and social background, and I am very pleased about this. Sport undeniably brings people together. This strength needs to be used by a Europe which is close to the concerns of its citizens. Personally I am strongly European. For my first international visit as minister I chose to go to Brussels. I have twice presented the Paris 2024 Olympics bid to other European sports ministers and also to the MEPs. For me it was vital for Paris to be seen not just as a bid for France, but for the whole of Europe. I felt real enthusiasm from the Europeans in charge, which makes our bid all the stronger.
As the Minister for Sport, I find myself in full agreement with your convictions. My priorities within the ministry, apart from ensuring the success of the Paris 2024 bid and its organisation if it is selected, will be to increase the role of sport in society: to develop women’s sport and sport for persons with a disability, to fight against every form of discrimination, to promote an exemplary, ethical sport and to develop sport as a factor in health and well-being – and I know how important this last issue is for you.
As Sport and Citizenship celebrates its tenth anniversary I would like to thank all those who make it what it is. Thank you for having brought this debate into the spotlight on the European stage; thank you for using your reflections for the benefit of sport as a real part of public policy and for having managed to convince European decision-makers and influential bodies of the necessity for this. There is still a long way to go, but I know I can count on your energy in advancing the priorities to which we are all so attached.