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Revamping French Guiana for the World Cup and Olympics

Submitted by on August 12, 2012 – 5:58 pm 2 Comments |  
Although Brazil has received ample press attention in its scramble to prepare for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic games, its neighbor French Guiana has also started drawing up plans to host athletes competing in the two sporting events. The overseas region of France will expand its sport, tourism, and transportation infrastructure in order to attract elite athletes to train there for the games. Earlier this month in London, the government-sponsored group GIP Guiana 2014-2016 promoted the region as a convenient, safe, and scenic place for foreign teams to train away from the hustle and bustle of the main competition venues.

The French government will spend about €35 million ($43 million) over the coming three years on projects that will include the renovation of two soccer stadiums in Rémire-Montjoly and Kourou, as well as the construction of new sports facilities. Future high-end training centers will include an Olympic-grade running track, a swimming pool, and a gym for martial arts, which together would accommodate athletes competing in up to 20 different Olympic events. In addition to a new transport system, French Guiana will also build new hotels, with a capacity of up to 4,000 visitors.

Government officials hope that these activities will boost the economy of French Guiana, which like the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique and the African island of Mayotte, is considered an integral part of the country of France. The construction jobs and tourism that the project will generate should reduce the region’s unemployment rate of about 20 percent. After the next Olympics, the new stadiums would provide a venue for the cultivation of sports talent in French Guiana, which has a youthful population and many cultural affinities with the Caribbean. Even though the region is considered politically equal to any other in the country—it sends representatives to the French legislature and is part of the EU and Eurozone—it has a much lower standard of living than metropolitan (European) France. While the highest in South America, French Guiana’s GDP per capita is slightly less than half the national average, and the economy is highly dependent on government subsidies and the presence of the European Space Agency’s spaceport.

The effort so far has been promising. Twelve countries are already considering using the country’s facilities, and GIP Guiana 2014-2016 has received advice from the London Olympic authorities about planning for the infrastructural challenges of hosting thousands of athletes and their coaches.


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  • a convenient, safe, and scenic place for foreign teams to train away from the hustle and bustle of the main competition venues

    Considering the size of Brazil it will be no trouble at all for World Cup and Olympics teams to train far away from the venues, without having to leave the country at all.

  • Hervé

            Is this a straight news story or has Mr Kremer produced a PR handout detached from reality?  I thought GeoCurrents was supposed to be a serious site.
           Given the endemic state of underdevelopment of Frencvh Guiana and the bloated public sector allied with the small mercantile oligarchy, the central government  as well as local elected officially seems incapable of offering anything more more “white elephants”. After an initial inflow of government investment funds and some temporary construction jobs what will ultimately be the impact of this project trying to piggyback on the next Olympics games? Probably next to minimal. French Guiana is simply economically uncomptitive in regional terms living mostly off government largesse (the Kourou Space Center is an example).
           As Peter projects, it would be highly unlikely that sports teams will need to find training facilities outside Brazil. Of course, you can count on Paris requiring that a large segment of the French team avail themselves of venues in Guiana and perhaps francophone African countries will be lured too with cut-rate arrangements for their minor teams. All in all : “Much Ado About Nothing”!

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