More than one million students participate in France’s Olympic and Paralympic Week

The Olympic and Paralympic Week in France took place around the theme of inclusion 14 Apr 2023
A group photo of about 20 people, including children using wheelchairs
The Olympic and Paralympic Week in France featured sports activities between 3 and 8 April 2023.
ⒸParis 2024-SOP 2023-Benjamin Boccas

The seventh annual Olympic and Paralympic Week (OPW/SOP) took place in France, with over one million students from 8,000 schools and institutions taking part in sports activities between 3 and 8 April 2023.

Over the six days, the Paris 2024 Organising Committee, the French sports movement and several other institutions joined together to promote the values of Paralympism and Olympism, bringing sport closer to schools, and getting millions of young people active.

Speaking about the success of this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Week, Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said: “The popularity of the SOP has continued to grow since it first began in 2017.

“The primary goal has been to bring more sport into the daily lives of pupils, from nursery school to university. As the benefits of physical activity become better known, at Paris 2024 we firmly believe in a four-part winning formula: physical education and sports classes; 30 minutes of physical activity a day at school, which is now widespread; school sport; and sport at club level.

“Sport has the power to change our perspectives, and the Games have the power to do this in a way that is faster, higher and stronger. Together, we have a unique opportunity to help move society forward, and this is also something we can do through young people.” 

Activities in Paris

Thousands of activities were organised across the country and in French institutions overseas, with the participation of dozens of Paralympic and Olympic athletes.

Some of the highlights included French athletes such as Olympic medallist in handball Jackson Richardson, hurdler Sasha Zhoya and Paralympic judoka Sandrine Martinet talking to primary school kids in Suresnes; Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo joining Estanguet to meet the educational teams and their students at the Lilas Sports Centre while climbing, handball and goalball workshops were being organised. 

French President Emmanuel Macron also travelled to Clamart to learn more about the Legendary Eleven football initiative for children with autism.

To launch this year’s activities, earlier in the week an official OPW dance was presented to 1,300 students, who performed it alongside famous French dancer and choreographer Fauve Hautot at the Zénith Paris arena.

The Paris 2024 Paralympic Games will take place from 28 August and 8 September 2024. @Paris 2024-SOP 2023-Benjamin Boccas

Inclusion in focus

Inspired by Paris 2024’s slogan “Games Wide Open”, this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Week focused on inclusion, with a goal to shift young people's perceptions of disability.

This latest edition of the OPW builds on the success of the programme originally launched in 2017. It is a joint initiative by the French Ministry of National Education and Youth, the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, the Ministry of Sport and the general sporting movement, as well as school and university sports federations, and the French National Olympic and Paralympic Committees.

During the one week of activities, those entities work together to build awareness of the Paralympic and Olympic values among students, while using sport as an educational tool.

The programme continues to grow year on year, in line with Paris 2024’s key objective to help combat physical inactivity and obesity. From kindergarten to university, at schools and offices and in cities, there has been a concerted focus on addressing the root causes of inactivity and getting people across France to “move more”.

As part of this effort, Paris 2024 has supported the roll-out of a daily 30-minute exercise period at French schools. Over 9,000 schools introduced the 30 minutes of daily physical activity into their curricula in September 2021.

As a result, the French Ministry of National Education and Youth has rolled out the idea across the entire country, with the goal of reaching all French primary schools by the time the Paris 2024 Games begin.

Looking ahead, authorities aim to capitalise on the growing interest in and excitement around the Paralympic and Olympic Games, building on the strong sporting and health legacies generated by this nationwide initiative to improve the health and well-being of French citizens long beyond the conclusion of the Games.