Jean Castex has been named French Prime Minister in what appears to be a significant boost for Paris 2024.
The Mayor of the Pyrenean town of Prades in France’s deep south was quickly named today by President Emmanuel Macron after Edouard Philippe, Prime Minister for the past three years, tendered his resignation.
The move, to be followed by an imminent reshuffle of ministers, follows disappointing results for Macron’s party in the recent local elections which also saw Socialist Anne Hidalgo win another term as Mayor of Paris.
Castex, 55, only recently returned to his role as interministerial delegate for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games after organising France’s exit from its coronavirus lockdown.
Philippe, who has won election as Mayor of the Norman city of Le Havre on France’s north coast, had appointed Castex in April to examine how the country would ease restrictions.
As well as his Paris 2024 role, Castex has held the position of President of the new National Sports Agency (ANS), established in 2019.
The ANS, set up to govern sport in France and oversee high-performance preparations for the 2024 Games, will hence also presumably require a new leader.
While French Prime Ministers are very much answerable to the President, and potential scapegoats when things go wrong, Castex’s appointment can hardly fail to be a big help for Paris 2024.
As the Games draw nearer, and preparing for them becomes an ever more central concern of national policy, organisers now know that a man intimately acquainted with their planning and requirements is sitting at the President’s right hand.
Castex, who served as deputy secretary general under Nicolas Sarkozy’s Presidency, had been tipped for advancement, with Macron under pressure, even before the local elections, to signal a fresh start in a country where coronavirus has killed nearly 30,000 and sparked a deep recession.
Names of the new key appointees in French sports that will flow from this week’s changes, including possibly a new Sports Minister, are expected to become known relatively rapidly.
Prades, just across the border from Spain, was the adopted home of famous cellist and anti-Francoist Pablo Casals during his exile from the Spanish civil war.