The wind tunnel and the pool dream of the Paris Olympics of 2024

Demonstration by Florian Kohler, Friday November 30th, at the Eiffel Tower.
Demonstration by Florian Kohler, Friday November 30th, at the Eiffel Tower. POSTAL CODE

Will we see the indoor freefall (official name of the wind tunnel flight) and the billiards at the Paris Olympic Games in 2024? Lobby intense, press conferences … For several weeks, these two sports have fired all the wood, multiplying the steps and initiatives to detail the reality of their practice and enhance the merits. With one goal: to win a guest seat at the Olympic Ball in France in five years.

The answer will initially belong to the Organizing Committee of the Olympics (OCOG) in Paris, before a final decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Knowing that there will be only one "Two, three, maybe four" Sports will be invited, adding the number of athletes with a limit of 10,500 (compared to almost 11,000 four years previously in Tokyo) to the 28 already programmed, as recalled by the OCOG in Paris.

The free fall and billiards are far from being the only contenders: 37 sports potentially meet the eligibility criteria set by the IOC. Petanque, squash or water skis have made their applications public. In addition, five sports that have already been added to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 (karate, surfing, climbing, skateboarding and softball baseball) will once again be candidates for a presence in 2024.

For this meeting in Paris, however, the process of designation for new sports hosted at the Games has been changed. From now on, it is the national committee to contact the federations that interest them, with the task of presenting a project or not – the COJO looks at the "spontaneous" candidacies.

Which federations have been contacted? Neither Tony Estanguet, the triple Olympic champion Canoe (2000, 2004, 2012) and the president of the OCOG in Paris, nor ## paris2024 do not want to answer this question.

Chain the seven digits imposed as quickly as possible

This does not prevent, in the immediate future, freefall and billiards to try to "sell". The first highlights its spectacular, telegenic side, aimed at young people: this practice, born in 1998, consists of connecting seven imposed digits as quickly as possible (more than one digit per second) in a vertical glass tube in which there is air of very high-speed propulsion – 270 km / h for example in the highest of the European subway (14 m by 4.5 diameter) installed at Vill & # 39; up de La Villette.

This activity also emphasizes that it has been adapted to the new Olympic constraints: the event can be organized in one day and the Parisian place has already been found.

Young discipline (the first wind tunnel inaugurated in 1998 in Florida), the count of free falls at home, however, few licensees: in France, 250,000 people flew in the wind tunnel in 2018, for a hundred skydivers specialized in the fall blanket.

The wind tunnel flight also requires heavy installation, even if the environmental cost has been reduced: 300 kWatt / h, including air conditioning, for example in La Villette (entirely supplied by green energy).

Three types of billiards

Billiard, for its part, promotes its universality (antennas in 135 countries) and the fact that it was the first sport to organize a world championship in 1813. It also highlights its telegenic aspect (1.6 billion homes followed by The last snooker world championship, according to the World Confederation of Billiard Sports, WCBS) and the low cost of organizing a competition.

There are three types of billiards in the GU: the carambola, a former French pool with three balls and no pockets; the snooker, bigger than 20%, with six pockets and 22 unnumbered balls; and the smallest American pool table with 15 numbered balls plus one white and six pockets.

The practice has 16,000 licenses in France and 280 million professionals worldwide, mainly in the United States (40 million), in China, India and Africa. Not very physical, it remains very masculine, according to the confession of the president of the French Billiard Federation, Jean-Paul Sinamian, who emphasizes «The imperative need to welcome a new audience: young people, women, disabled people».

Finally, a first list of possible future elected officials will be known at the end of March 2019: it will be communicated by the OCOG which will submit it to the IOC. A selection will therefore be finalized in October 2019, the final decision that will be taken by the IOC in December 2020. The moment to observe, at the Tokyo Games, how the other sports will appear.

Catherine Pacary

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