France is grappling with political turmoil just three weeks before hosting the 2024 Paris Olympics, creating significant uncertainty about key government positions. Prime Minister Gabriel Attal offered his resignation following snap elections that resulted in a hung parliament.

Attal expressed his willingness to remain in office until a new decision is made. “Our country is facing an unprecedented political situation and is getting ready to host the world in a few weeks,” Attal said, offering to stay on in his position “as long as duty demands.”

President Emmanuel Macron has yet to respond to the election results, which saw his centrist bloc lose nearly 100 MPs. It remains unclear whether Macron will maintain a caretaker government or allow the left-wing alliance to name a new candidate. “What organizers worry about the most are things like delinquency and crime, and of course terrorism, as well as traffic conditions,” stated Paul Dietschy, a history and sports professor at the Université de Franche-Comté in France, to AFP. “The interior minister is the most important position.”

The fate of Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, responsible for Olympic security preparations, is uncertain. Darmanin stated he would resign if far-right or hard-right parties formed a government. “The Olympic Games have been very well-prepared. Everyone knows it and everyone welcomes it,” he told AFP. Concerns about delinquency, crime, terrorism, and traffic conditions are prominent among organizers.

The local organizing committee and the International Olympic Committee were unprepared for Macron’s election gamble. “If Macron hadn’t dissolved the parliament, then there would be a bit more passion for the Games,” Dietschy noted. “You don’t really feel excitement building. Most French people have been focused on the election.”

Observers worry that a far-right government could undermine France’s image and the diversity theme of Paris 2024. Tony Estanguet, the chief organizer, faces increased pressure due to the political situation. Despite potential cabinet changes, senior civil servants responsible for Games-related issues will remain in place. The organizing committee assures that state continuity will be maintained.

The election has overshadowed the Olympic build-up, with more media focus on politics. Public passion for the Games has been diminished by the political situation. France has invested seven years and at least 2.4 billion euros in Olympic preparations. Organizers aim for an “iconic” event with a lower carbon footprint and temporary infrastructure.

The Olympics are seen as crucial to reviving interest after the Covid-affected Tokyo 2021 edition. David Wallechinsky, an Olympic historian, notes that political issues often overshadow the Olympics initially but fade once competition begins. “For the next couple of weeks, the election and politics could be a big issue, but the minute the competition starts, these sorts of stories kind of fade away,” he said. “The election interests me and everybody else in France, but for most people around the world, it’s a sideshow.”

Macron’s decision to dissolve parliament has diverted public attention from the Olympics. Observers believe that the political situation could impact France’s image during the Games. The successful execution of the Games is crucial for France’s international reputation. The upcoming Olympics promise to highlight sustainability and iconic settings in Paris.

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