By Nick Butler

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, pictured last month, has been unveiled today as the new French Sports Minister ©Getty ImagesApril 2 - Najat Vallaud-Belkacem has been handed the reins of the potential Paris bid for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics after replacing Valérie Fourneyron as Sports Minister following a Cabinet reshuffle.

Vallaud-Belkacem, a socialist politician born in Morocco, was Minister of Women's Rights under the previous cabinet but, rather than relinquishing those responsibilities she will extend her remit to also cover Sports, Youth Affairs and Community Life. 

The 36-year-old has also been a councillor of the city of Lyon since 2008.

Fourneyron served less than two years in the post after replacing the two-time Olympic heavyweight judo champion David Douillet in May 2012 and it is likely that much of the work she has begun will be continued under her successor.

This relates to modernising sports law and clarifying the relationship between the state and the sports world, with a bill due to be presented later this year.

Other key priorities listed by Fourneyron earlier this year included boosting opportunities for local communities, using sport as a tool for public health and providing individualised support for top athletes.

She also played a prominent role in Paris' successful bid to host the 2018 Gay Games, beating rivals London and Limerick. 

Continuing to boost France's profile on the international sporting scene will be another major focus.

A 2024 Olympic and Paralympic bid, discussed by French President François Hollande and IOC counterpart Thomas Bach last year, will feature highly on Najat Vallaud-Belkacem's agenda as sports minister ©IOCA 2024 Olympic and Paralympic bid, discussed by French President François Hollande and IOC counterpart Thomas Bach last year, will feature highly on Najat Vallaud-Belkacem's agenda as sports minister ©IOC

In particular, this relates to the proposed bid of Paris for the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympics which should be officially launched next year.

With Paris likely to face opposition from one of various possible cities in the United States, as well as the likes of Rome and Doha, Vallaud-Belkacem has an important responsibility to convince those in France and elsewhere of the merits of a bid. 

The most notable feature of the reshuffle was the appointment of Segolene Royal, former partner of President François Hollande who bid unsuccessfully for the Presidency in 2007, as Environment Minister.

Vallaud-Belkacem is a key ally of Royal after she made her name as her spokesman in 2007, as well as in 2009 during the primary for the Presidential election two years later. 

The reshuffle follows the appointment on Monday (March 31) of Manuel Valls as Prime Minister to replace Jean-Marc Ayrault.

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