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Seine-et-Marne, a New Sports Destination?

Seine-et-Marne, a new sports destination? - ©Adobe StockUnicusx

One hundred years after the 1924 Paris Games, Seine-et-Marne is once again an Olympic region. Labeled as a Games host community, the department even hopes to become “a first-class sports destination”. Interview with Vincent Kropf, Olympic and Paralympic project manager within the Seine-et-Marne department's sports department.

Seine-et-Marne, a long history of sports

Seine-et-Marne is one of France's leading sports regions. In 1924, Fontainebleau hosted the Olympic modern pentathlon events. In economic terms, it is home to companies such as DIMA, the world's leading manufacturer of landing mats for pole vaulting, high jump and gymnastics, which has been based in Ozoir-la-Ferrière since 1976. FORNELLS, a specialist in equestrian infrastructures, was established in Nangis in 1964. As the most eco-responsible company in Paris Region (2021), it will be involved in the barricading of the Paris 2024 Games.

There are also the individual stories that are linked to the department. A number of athletes from the Seine-et-Marne region will be taking part in the Games. “We've set up a departmental ticketing service to give the people of Seine-et-Marne the chance to support them, and to ensure that these Games bring people together,” emphasized Vincent Kropf. In fact, the Olympic and Paralympic project manager is himself a child of the Olympics. At the age of six, while the Joinville Battalion was preparing for the 1984 Los Angeles Games in Fontainebleau, he decided to get his first sports license. In 1991, he ran with the Olympic torchbearer as he passed through Seine-et-Marne on his way to Albertville. “I still have my little torch and my tracksuit,” he said. He now coordinates the initiatives and events linked to the Paris 2024 Games, from ticketing to the Olympic Torch Relay, which will cross the department on July 20, and on August 27 for the Paralympic Torch.

The Vaires-sur-Marne Nautical Stadium, a unique infrastructure in Europe

The department will be a veritable hub for the Games. Several venues will be available to delegations before and during the event. The Chelles skatepark will become the preparation center for the French, Chinese and Japanese skateboarding delegations. “A triangular confrontation is also scheduled with the Brazilian team. An unmissable foretaste of the Games and accessible to all! “ said an enthusiastic Vincent Kropf. The same goes for Combes-la-Ville, home to the Australian gymnastics team, whose training sessions will be open to the public under competition conditions.

In addition to the Paralympic road cycling events, scheduled to take place in Courtry in September, the Vaires-sur-Marne basin will host three Olympic and Paralympic events. First opened in 1991, the nautical stadium which was home to the 2023 Canoe Slalom World Cup was modernized in 2017 with the addition of a whitewater basin. “When Paris bid for the Games, we wanted to make the basin a unique venue in Europe. Rowing, inline canoing and slalom canoing: along with the Stade de France, this is the only Olympic venue that will be in continuous operation for two weeks! “ said Vincent Kropf delightfully. What better way to attract visitors to a venue that is popular with enthusiasts all year round? The department therefore provided shuttles to the three nearest stations and had the slopes around the pool leveled in order to install the seats.

"The Vaires-sur-Marne basin hosts the world's biggest canoing competitions. Credits: All rights reserved"
The Vaires-sur-Marne basin hosts the world's biggest canoing competitions. Credits: All rights reserved

A promising heritage

Apart from the Games, the local authority aims to make Seine-et-Marne a major tourist destination. “We have a date with history,” he added. “The residents are enthusiastic. With 10,000 people expected to visit us every day, this flow of customers will create a major economic appeal for our retailers. “ Of the 30 games preparation centers located in the department, 16 have received more than 8 million euros from the local authority for upgrades. “This modernization is a great heritage for local residents. It will boost recreational activities after the Games,” said Vincent Kropf. The department is also banking on river tourism. In collaboration with the Seine-et-Marne attractiveness agency,it is creating river itineraries and developing nautical activities around the two rivers. “The Games are a great challenge for us, just like Disney Park was in 1991. Seine-et-Marne has the potential to become a top sports destination,” he concluded.



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