EU Parliament chief Antonio Tajani said athletes will “win as Europeans” whilst the French sports minister Laura Flessel, recently appointed by europhile president Emmanuel Macron, rebranded them as the “European Games”.
The naked politicisation of what is supposed to be a purely sporting contest will alarm many onlookers and continues a worrying trend which has seen the Olympics become synonymous with a left-wing agenda.
Officials from Paris descended on the EU parliament in Brussels yesterday to launch their vision of a European Olympics, which is being pushed vigorously by Mr Macron.
Under the proposals the EU flag would fly on the medals podium alongside that of the athlete’s home country, whilst the event itself would be used to promote the idea of European ‘solidarity’.
Speaking at a press conference this afternoon senior officials made absolutely no attempt to hide their openly political agenda despite the Olympics officially being a neutral event.
Paris is bidding to hold the Games for the first time since in 1924, and French media have already been briefed by officials saying that it has won the contest.
EU Parliament president Antonio Tajani announced the plans
Last summer the EU was mocked for putting itself at the top of the Rio Olympics medal table
At this afternoon’s press conference, Mr Tajani said: “For Europe this is a major opportunity to show off our most beautiful cities.
“It’s not just about a French candidacy, it’s about a European bid as I see it and that’s why really we have to promote this endeavour on behalf of Paris.
“Everybody knows Paris will project a good image on behalf of the European Union.”
He then dropped the bombshell that the EU is now openly lobbying the individual athletics federations across Europe to get its flag displayed at the world’s biggest sporting event.
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Britain would likely have vociferously opposed such a move, but by 2024 it will have left the bloc and so will have no say in the decision making process.
We will want to make clear that this is a European candidacy for 2024
EU parliament chief Antonio Tajani
Mr Tajani said: “What we’ve tried to do is to see the European flag flying alongside national flags at the Olympic Games and we want to win at the Olympics as Europeans.
“So that’s something we’re working on with the national federations. Of course we want to see the French flag there, the national flags there, but we will want to make clear that this is a European candidacy for 2024.
“So that’s the idea that I’d like to launch, that’s the parliament’s idea with the backing of all the national federations.”
Turning to Ms Flessel, a former Olympic fencer who won two gold medals, he jokingly added: “ You are the expert, so maybe you’d be the flag bearer on behalf of the European Union.”
The French sports minister replied in her remarks: “The thing that we’re hoping for is that on the 13th of September it will be the European and French games.”
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The pro-EU stance was also heartily endorsed by Bernard Lapasset, the Co-Chair of the Paris bid, who said he would be “proud” to display the EU flag at the city’s Games.
He said: “One more flag is not of course one more flag, just one more flag, it shows what our ideals are. We’re not here to do propaganda.
“This is going to be a victory not just for us, but it’s a victory for sport and for the strength that we can apply in Europe behind this candidacy.
“We’ll be very happy to carry forth the European flag as it’s part of our history. It will be young people who know what sport is in 2024 and that will be a good thing for France and for Europe.”
In its Olympic Charter, published in August 2015, the International Olympic Committee vows to “oppose any political or commercial abuse of sport and athletes”.
Last year Brussels was widely mocked after publishing its own medals table showing the EU as the world's best performing 'country', when many of the prizes were won by British athletes.