Tony Estanguet said the pandemic highlighted the need for a socially responsible Games ©Getty Images

Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet has said the coronavirus pandemic reinforces the need for a sustainable and socially responsible Olympic Games.

In a letter addressed to all Paris 2024 stakeholders, the former canoeist reflected that the project could be a golden opportunity to help France emerge from the crisis.

Estanguet, a triple Olympic gold medallist, also offered support to people impacted by the "unprecedented crisis".

France has been one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, with 25,531 people confirmed to have died.

The 41-year-old outlined that society would need to rebuild but he believes Paris 2024 could serve as a unifying project which could help bring people together.

He said the Paris 2024 project has been aimed at being responsible and sustainable from the start, highlighting challenges such as the climate emergency, territorial inequalities and the need for budgetary sobriety.

Estanguet said this required the Organising Committee to "reinvent the model" of the Games.

Decisions to only build facilities that are useful to local communities, putting a particular emphasis on Seine-Saint Denis, as well as aiming to cut the carbon impact in half, were highlighted by Estanguet as part of the bid to achieve the pledge.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, he said work had already begun to adapt to the "historic crisis" which meant having the courage to "put everything up for review".

"This crisis further reinforces the need for sustainable and socially-responsible Games," Estanguet wrote.

"It also requires us to look inwards and continue to adapt; to reinvent ourselves.

"Let us be clear: this task will not be easy.

"We will need to shake-up established thinking; the pathways will be tight.

"This work has already begun.

"Adapting means having the courage to put everything up for review, in order only to keep and further strengthen what is useful.

"By continuing to seek the shortest and least costly path to deliver our ambitions.

"Because one key principle has guided us from the start and we will never deviate from it: we will only spend what we make.

"To adapt, we must keep in mind what has guided us from the start: an ambition to stage responsible Games, leaving a legacy of solutions."

Tony Estanguet highlighted efforts to boost the Seine-Saint Denis region ©Getty Images
Tony Estanguet highlighted efforts to boost the Seine-Saint Denis region ©Getty Images

Estanguet vowed that the Games would continue to maintain standards set on the environment, while saying the input of ideas and creativity from stakeholders will be essential.

A "collective brainstorming" exercise is expected to begin in the coming weeks to allow input on how the Games can contribute to the recovery of society.

It is claimed that the Games are a "golden opportunity" to contribute to reviving the economy and the tourism industry, by showcasing heritage and innovation, promoting a more inclusive society and changing the situation of people with disabilities.

It could also provide a stage for the France's artists and the cultural sector.

Estanguet said the Olympics could be an opportunity to show France's values, as well as bring people together from different communities, territories, business groups, unions, sport, politics and the charity sector.

"When we think about it, what other project could make that happen?" Estanguet wrote.

"Let us rise to the moment we are living and give our post-crisis society Games for a new world.

"Because, while the crisis has revealed the vulnerabilities and inequalities of our society, it has also shone a powerful light on our resources: on the wealth of solidarity, of course, which remains undiminished since the start of the crisis; but also on sport as a tangible solution for transforming our way of life.

"An alternative to public transport, naturally, but also an educational solution in schools at a time when the organisational model of the classroom is under review.

"An unrivalled tool for preserving health and strengthening social cohesion. 

"Paris 2024 will fully commit to highlight the crucial role of sport within a new societal model.

"But because sport has greatly suffered from this crisis, we must first help it back on its feet.

"Dear friends, let us remain united.

"Let's continue to be this team that is building an unrivalled project all together.

"And let's be aware that, in light of our society's new stakes and needs, our responsibility and the purpose of our actions are greater than ever before.

"I thank you all for your unfailing commitment to this unprecedented project.

"Be assured that Paris 2024 will do everything possible to return your support."

The letter could be viewed as a response to criticism from Guy Drut ©Getty Images
The letter could be viewed as a response to criticism from Guy Drut ©Getty Images

Estanguet's letter could be viewed as both an acknowledgement of comments made by International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Guy Drut, as well as a defence to some of the criticism offered by the former French Minister of Sport last week.

Drut had suggested the coronavirus pandemic was an opportunity to "reinvent" the Olympic Games and make the event more "sober and responsible".

Yet the Frenchman also described the Paris 2024 project as "obsolete, outdated and disconnected from reality".

Belgium's Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant, who is chairing the IOC Coordination Commission for Paris 2024, queried the comments made by Drut regarding Paris 2024.

The Belgian official said he understood that Drut's comments were made with a "good intention", but argued the message had created confusion.

He insisted French organisers were seeking to host the Games responsibly and claimed several areas of Paris 2024 were already being reviewed prior to Drut's comments.

The reviews reportedly involve examining the sport programme, as well as management and hospitality at the Games.

Estanguet's letter can be read in full here.