David Owen ©ITGWell done on making it to 2015 - a year about which little seems predictable, but that will, I fancy, see France's relationship with the modern Olympic Movement it spawned put under a pretty powerful microscope.

I have accordingly spent part of the holiday period immersed in the latest book by Armand de Rendinger, Director of International Relations for Paris 2012, whose account of that campaign, in which the French capital was perceived as favourite throughout only to lose out to London, was published in 2006.

The new work, La tentation olympique française [The French Olympic Temptation], focuses on the forthcoming race for the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games - a contest that now seems more than likely to feature Paris, along with rivals from the United States, Italy, Germany, South Africa and others.

I gather that the text should be available in English translation soon.

Close students of the Olympic Movement may find that they can jump straight to page 135, where the chances of France being able to construct a convincing 2024 bid start to be assessed in earnest.

For all that, I found the tour d'horizon of everything that has happened since the shattering moment in Singapore in 2005 when then International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge opened the envelope containing the fateful word "London" immensely valuable.

It is only when you see them catalogued that you realise quite how many electoral reverses French candidates have suffered in the Olympic world in the intervening period.

Not for nothing does de Rendinger observe at one point that "the world of sport gave the impression it was evolving without France".

Armand de Rendinger's book chronicles France's recent Olympic bids, and ultimate lack of success therein, before looking ahead ©La tentaton olympique françaiseArmand de Rendinger's book chronicles France's recent Olympic bids, and ultimate lack of success therein, before looking ahead ©La tentaton olympique française



But, if the disappointment of 2005 led to a sort of rupture, it cut both ways.

The book also flags up what it terms "an absence of will to capitalise intelligently at least on the 50 IOC members who had voted for France". [London won the decisive vote 54-50.]

This opportunity has now been lost, since more than 40 percent of current IOC members have been elected since Singapore.

If it is to win the Games again, then even the city that gave them birth in their modern form must learn that it is no longer sufficient merely to court the IOC when it wants something.

In this context, Paris's loss to Lausanne of the headquarters of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) must be seen as a real setback: the regular influx of key Olympic decision-makers that the presence of the HQ ensured has instead, since 2010, shifted to Switzerland.

What is sure, as we wait for the full list of 2024 runners and riders to assemble, is that France is in dire need of something to jolt it out of the morosity that has the far right National Front riding high in the opinion polls.

Could an Olympic bid provide that spark?

Well, the good news is that the French sports establishment does at last seem to have achieved a state of mind where it is ready to try to learn the lessons of past defeats.

French President François Hollande, right, pictured with IOC President Thomas Bach, is among those to have indicated support for a fresh Parisian attempt for the 2024 Games ©Présidence de la République/L BlevennecFrench President François Hollande, right, pictured with IOC President Thomas Bach, is among those to have indicated support for a fresh Parisian attempt for the 2024 Games ©Présidence de la République/L Blevennec



The bad news is that it has taken so long to get over Singapore that France is in a position where, if it does launch a bid for 2024, it may find itself attempting to implement important structural reforms in mid-campaign.

De Rendinger believes that measures are needed to strengthen the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) by getting away from the age-old French concept of sport as a public service, much like education or national security.

The reforms successfully conducted in Germany, under the leadership of a certain Thomas Bach, now IOC President, could, he thinks, serve as a model.

"Without a strong CNOSF," he argues, "it is difficult to be able to make one's mark in the international competition countries participate in to obtain the Games."

De Rendinger also writes about what he describes as "the imperious necessity of having a commando-type, agile team".

This, I felt, was a big lesson from the 2016 race, which Rio won partly because it could draw on the presence of a charismatic national leader who was at once fully immersed in the campaign and ready to listen to - and act on - the advice of trusted specialists.

As of today, this is probably my biggest doubt about France's ability to wage a campaign strong enough to worry the Americans who are set to begin the race as favourites: I have yet to detect any sign whatsoever that a country inured to Government by hierarchical elite is ready to sanction a bid team with the necessary level of autonomy.

Paris 2024 would seek to learn much from recent bidding contests, including from Paris's defeat to London in the race for 2012 ©AFP/Getty ImagesParis 2024 would seek to learn much from recent bidding contests, including from Paris's defeat to London in the race for 2012 ©AFP/Getty Images



Ultimately, though, ready or not, it is probably sensible for France to press ahead with a bid, if, that is, the country aspires for Paris to host its third Summer Games within the next quarter century or so.

For one thing, it would look pretty foolish if it sat out the 2024 contest on the assumption that the USA would win only for the spoils to go to a European rival.

That would leave little chance of a Paris Games before 2036.

Or, to look at it another way, what do you suppose would have happened if, instead of sulking, France had quickly absorbed its lessons from 2005, maintained strong contacts with the IOC and run hard for 2020?

Knowing what we know now, there is every chance a strong Paris bid would have won.

As for the rather farcical 2022 Winter Games contest, had it entered that (with a better bid than the botched Annecy 2018 campaign), France could have banked a large fund of IOC goodwill that would have been of enormous benefit to a future Summer Olympic bid.

Towards the end of his thought-provoking and informative book, de Rendinger quotes Madame de Staël, a woman of letters of the Napoleonic era.

"Conquest," she wrote, "is a contingency ["un hasard"] that depends more on the faults of the vanquished than the genius of the victor."

That amounts to a neat summation of the 2020 race; it may yet apply to the 2024 contest as well.

David Owen worked for 20 years for the Financial Times in the United States, Canada, France and the UK. He ended his FT career as sports editor after the 2006 World Cup and is now freelancing, including covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2010 World Cup and London 2012. Owen's Twitter feed can be accessed here.