Situation in Ukraine, Paris 2024, CO2 footprint… The new Minister for Sport, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, presents her numerous projects

With the Paris Grand Slam tournament in full swing, the new sports minister is trying to keep an eye on Roland-Garros. During an interview with RMC on Saturday 28 May, former French Tennis Federation (FFT) Director General Amélie Oudéa-Castéra spoke about the event at the Porte d’Auteuil, but also about her new responsibilities, the Olympics and the Paris 2024 Paralympics Champions League final and green planning for sport.

Situation in Ukraine: Russian players are subject to “a regime of strict neutrality”

The organizers of the Wimbledon tournament (June 27 to July 10) made the decision to exclude Russian and Belarusian players from the 2022 edition. In response, the ATP and WTA, which govern the men’s and women’s rounds, put forward that there would be no points awarded to the participants and thus the rankings were frozen.

If discussions between the different parties continue, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra confirmed that “Wimbledon was very isolated on this issue”. “When Russian players only represent themselves, it’s complicated to exclude them from a competition. At Roland-Garros they are subject to a strict regime of neutrality. Any pro-Putin or pro-Russia endorsement would result in an expulsion order.”

When asked about a possible position of a Russian player in favor of Ukraine during the tournament, the sports minister did not go too far. “You could say that, it’s your freedom. There is also an informal environment, in a dressing room etc. that allows them to express things that the context does not always allow them to express publicly.”

On the other hand, with regard to Saturday’s Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, she felt the winner should say a word about the situation in Ukraine. As a reminder, the match was moved to Paris a few days after Russian troops invaded at the end of February, when it was originally scheduled to be played in Saint Petersburg. “In view of what is happening, this message of absolute solidarity with the Ukrainian people is important”she commented.

Paris 2024, “a lever to improve the status of sport in France”

Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, who has been appointed Minister for Sport but also for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, explained her functions and her role as political mediator to the Organizing Committee. “We are fully aware that this is a major planetary event that will be one of the most important of the five-year term and for that there must be a political and societal responsibility for how these Games are conducted and on track, that they will leave behind. The meaning of my mission is to help the teams and unite them to organize as well as possible, manage the carbon footprint and control the budgets. I will also make sure that there is a good sporting performance and a dimension of the folk celebration.”

The minister is counting on the presence of Kylian Mbappé to take part in the event’s international appeal. according to her “There is no photo” : PSG have to release him to enter the competition. “He always dreamed of representing his country at the 2024 Olympics. It’s a big yes, in capital letters.”

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Amélie Oudéa-Castéra has insisted on the notion of the legacy of the Paris Olympics on several occasions: “The Games’ ability to raise the profile of sport in France is central to my mission.”

Ecological change in sport: The CO2 footprint in the focus of the topics

During the presidential election campaign, Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed his intention to further structure his environmental policy. This created a post of Secretary-General for Ecological Planning within the new government.

This concern is no longer limited to the responsible ministry, but irrigates other areas, including sport. Amélie Oudéa-Castéra first recalled “the frame‘, which revolves around the UN climate, the Sport Program on Climate Change and the charter of 15 environmentally responsible commitments launched by his ministry in 2017. “It’s a voluntary approach: using renewable energy, promoting soft mobility, tackling food waste, optimizing waste management… All these issues are fundamental in our competitions.”

“At Roland-Garros, more than 90% of the carbon footprint is linked to transport”she remembered. “We know we need more structural action from circuit and competition organizers to fight against air travel. There are also clean fuel policies for air travel and the Games are very committed to that perspective.”

Incidents in the stands: Oudéa-Castéra pleads for “absolute steadfastness”

Attacked players, pitch invasions, projectile throwing, delays by the authorities… After several years of progress in dealing with fans, French football has fallen back into its tracks this season, leading to an endless series of incidents no less than 11 behind closed doors, 35 grandstand closures, 24 car park closures and 130 travel bans.

When asked about these events, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra explained that she was responsible for a “absolute strength”. “The stadiums must remain places of joy, of fun, where you can take your children. This does not exclude the desire for dialogue with the fans and the club management or the National Division for the Fight against Hooliganism. That message of determination just goes hand in hand with the social message of what clubs can do.”

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