One million pupils across France have dedicated their annual cross-country races to Paris’s victory in its bid
to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games this year, the French Ministry of
Sports announced today.
In what has become an honored national sporting tradition, the annual competition is organized by the Union Nationale
du Sport Scolaire (UNSS, the National Union for School Sports), an affiliate of
the French Ministry of Sports. Each year, hundreds of thousands of students aged
11 - 18, from every school in every Département (province) of France, participate
in the local races, supported by parents, local associations and government representatives.
A record of one million students, from 9,400 schools in the 100 French Départements ran cross country over the
past four months to show their support for Paris in its Olympic quest. The participants,
as well as thousands of spectators who lined the routes, wore Paris 2012 t-shirts
and waved flags in the colors of the Paris Olympic Bid.
Sport is an important part of the French school curriculum, with up to four hours a week of sporting activities.
Most students participate in the sporting competitions organized by the UNSS.
French Minister of Sport, Youth and Association and double Olympic Champion Jean-François Lamour said:
“It is incredibly moving to see the students, as well as their supporters across
the country, dedicate this important competition to Paris 2012. This is another
demonstration that L’Amour des Jeux has become part of the social fabric in our
country, with everyone, including our youth, passionately backing Paris’s bid”.
“This year’s record number of participants also shows that the Olympic Games founder Pierre de Coubertin’s
motto – Participation is What’s Important – is a way of life in France when it
comes to sports”.
“All of the French nation wants to bring the Games to Paris in 2012. Should Paris win the honor of hosting
the Olympics, the 2012 Games will serve as an inspiration for the grassroots practice
of sports all over France and will leave a magnificent legacy for future generations
Thousands of teenagers took the opportunity to declare their ‘Amour des Jeux’.
“It was so exciting to run for Paris 2012, but this is nothing compared to how thrilled we would be to
see the Olympics in Paris in 2012. We all hope that Paris wins the Games!” Kévin,
12, of Saint-Jean-de-Sauves, said.