“I would very much like to see a French candidate”

A busy sports calendar that threatens to disrupt has relegated them to second place in the news. But the Mediterranean Games start this weekend in Oran, Algiers (June 25 to July 5). Originally scheduled for 2021, they were pushed back a year due to the health crisis.

26 countries, 24 sports, over 3,000 athletes and almost 5,000 volunteers were mobilized. Strong. But the event is struggling to get rid of the question: what is the place of the Mediterranean Games in the sports movement today?

Bernard Amsalem, Vice-President of the International Committee for the Mediterranean Games (CIJM), responsible for leading the coordination commission for more than two years, answered questions FrankGames.

FrancsJeux: What does the 2022 Mediterranean Games look like in Oran?

Bernard Amsalem : The Algerian government has put a lot of effort into this event. Several new facilities have been built, including an athletics and football stadium with 45,000 seats. Several others have been renovated. Their architecture is very successful. The legacy of the Games has also been thought through. In terms of accommodation, the Cité universitaire d’Oran has been refurbished and has 4,000 beds for foreign delegations. The Eurovision also made efforts under its contract with the International Committee for the Mediterranean Games (CIJM) and spent 84 hours live in 16 countries, compared to 4 hours during the previous edition in Tarragona. Everything is well structured and fine tuned. The games should go very well.

Participation at the right level?

We recorded the participation of 3434 athletes from 26 countries, or approximately 6100 people with officials and coaches. This game was played by all countries and all sports, with the exception of horse riding. We thought about removing him from the program, but ended up keeping him because the Oran region has a long equestrian tradition. But the international federation (FEI) did not include this event in its calendar. As a result, only 11 countries are present, and the organizing committee takes care of the travel expenses of the horses. Some major equestrian countries such as France, Spain and Italy will not participate.

With such a busy sports calendar, what can we expect from the Mediterranean Games in terms of performance and level of competition?

The competition is high, especially this year. We know this is not a World Cup level tournament. But in some sports, such as wrestling, judo or weightlifting, where Olympic qualification is by world ranking, Oran 2022 allows you to earn points. In athletics, this area is an interesting mix of young hopefuls, for whom this event will be their first international experience on their way to Paris in 2024, and much more experienced athletes. The French selection in particular includes the likes of Alexandra Tavernier in the hammer, Thomas Jordier in the 400m, Johan Koval in the half marathon, Ludwi Vaillant in the 400m hurdles, as well as the promising 110m. with Just Kwow-Machi barriers. , who just broke his personal best in 13 seconds 27.

Preparations for the event didn’t seem to always go smoothly. You yourself sounded the alarm last year about delays in the organization…

The Mediterranean Games in Oran are funded by the Algerian government. Inevitably, there were delays due to the slowness of some public services and administrative workloads, in particular with tender announcements. We were worried. But everything was decided in November last year with the advent of Mohammed Aziz Deroise at the head of the organizing committee. He was a great handball player, international, he is a former sports minister. After two months, he cleaned up. Unblocked everything, including communication, digital … Today everything is installed. The Algerian authorities attach great importance to this event. In terms of image, of course, but also heritage. New or refurbished equipment should encourage the development of sports practices, especially among young people.

Where can the Mediterranean Games fit in an increasingly busy international sports calendar with more and more multi-sport events taking place?

The Mediterranean Games were created in 1951. We are in the 19th edition. It’s time to rejuvenate them by adding new sports. Urban disciplines, in priority. Teqball on display in Oran. We must go further to rejuvenate the image, the public and participation. We are going to discuss this in November at the CIJM General Assembly. For future releases, the program must take into account the evolution of society.

What does the future of the event look like?

The next edition has already been scheduled. It will take place in 2026 in the Italian city of Taranto. We have only received one application. The choice was all the more logical since the new president of the CIJM, Davide Tizzano, is an Italian. For the next one, in 2030, applications will be accepted and the decision will take place in 2024. I would really like to see a French bid. France has not hosted the Mediterranean Games since 1993. It could be a very good project between Marseille and Nice. He would fit in very well with the legacy of the 2024 Games in Paris.