France - Olympics

Macron at Covid-restricted Tokyo Olympics as France prepares for 2024

Macron and International Olympic Committee boss Thomas Bach Tokyo, July 23rd 2021.
Macron and International Olympic Committee boss Thomas Bach Tokyo, July 23rd 2021. Charly TRIBALLEAU AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron is in Tokyo, where he is one of the few world leaders attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. France will be hosting the competition in 2024.

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The Games are taking place under tight restrictions, a year after they were originally scheduled because of Covid-19 delays.

Attendance at this evening’s ceremony is strictly limited, only around 950 will be in the stands and Macron will be accompanied by just one minister.

Shortly after his arrival, Macron had what he described as a “very good discussion” with International Olympic Committee boss Thomas Bach.

“We too are moving forward to prepare our country for 2024 - our athletes, but also our children and the whole of society - to deliver on both the values and the athletic excellence [of the Olympics]” Macron told journalists.

The French president acknowledged that health considerations at the Olympics remained a concern but said the virus should not harm the spirit of sport.

“Learning to live with the virus means carrying on, so the Olympic spirit with its emphasis on teamwork, so necessary at this time, continues to spread.”

He is expected to attend some of the Judo and women’s 3x3 basketball competitions, where France has high hopes for medals.

Politics as well as sport

His two-day trip will also include a reception with Emperor Narohito and talks on Saturday with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

The two leaders are expected to discuss bilateral ties, as well as the situation in the Indo-Pacific region in the face of growing maritime and military pressure from China.

Macron is also planning to raise the issue of parental abduction in Japan, which does not offer joint custody for children in cases of divorce or separation.

The subject has been in the headlines since a French father in Tokyo began a hunger strike to win access to his children, who he says were abducted by their Japanese mother.

Vincent Fichot has not since his two children for almost three years and began his hunger strike outside the Olympic Stadium on July 10th.

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