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  • Paris 2024 Gets New Sports Minister


    Maracineanu stepped into the role on Tuesday evening
    (ATR) Paris 2024 says the resignation of French sports minister Laura Flessel will not impact Games preparations.

    The Olympic fencing champion, a key figure in the Paris Olympic bid campaign, quit the government on Tuesday ahead of a cabinet reshuffle, citing personal reasons.

    She was swiftly replaced by Roxana Maracineanu, a 200m backstroke silver medalist at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

    Around the Rings understands that the Olympic organizing committee is not concerned the sports ministry upheaval will hinder the progress of Games preparations, despite her relative lack of political experience.

    Born in Romania before emigrating to France with her family in 1984, she became France’s first female swimming world champion in 1998. Maracineanu has spent time as a regional counselor in the Île de France region.

    Paris 2024 leaders are said to be viewing her appointment favorably, after finalizing plans to develop a temporary 15,000-seat aquatics center for the Games. Olympic budget issues will be one of the biggest challenges for her. 

    In addition to assessing areas where Paris 2024 can trim costs across the Games project, the Olympic swimmer’s input will prove invaluable to the development of the aquatics center concept and the sport’s post-Games legacy. Announced in June, the main swimming hub will remain an aquatics center post-Games, with a “redefined concept”. The Olympics will distribute nine pools around the Saint-Denis region in the northern suburbs of Paris as part of its legacy.

    ATR is told that Paris 2024 president Tony Estanguet will meet the new sports minister later this week.

    On Twitter, Estanguet welcomed the appointment of Maracineanu as sports minister, adding: “I wish you all the best at the service of sport in France. I am looking forward to work together on Paris 2024; the Games of an entire country”.

    In the coming years, Maracineanu will also be expected to play a major role in initiatives to grow public engagement with the 2024 Olympics.

    Before the Games, she already has plenty on her plate, including work to successfully deliver the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2023 World Rugby Cup.

    Estanguet also thanked Flessel for her “flawless commitment in favor of Paris 2024 at each step of the bidding phase, as an athlete and as the sport minister.

    “Count on us to pursue our common ambition for the development and practice of sport in France,” he tweeted.

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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