Thobois appointed CEO of Paris 2024 as recruitment drive continues
By Florence Lloyd-Hughes
Étienne Thobois has, as expected, been named chief executive of Paris 2024, the organising committee for the Olympic Games in that year, after a recruitment procress was carried out by an executive search firm.
The former badminton champion was regarded as the most likely candidate to land the role, having occupied the same position in Paris’ bid committee.
But despite Thobois’ (pictured) evident suitability for the position, Paris 2024 tasked Odgers Berndtson with recruiting for the role, in a process that attracted applications from 61 individuals.
A shortlist of four candidates were selected for interview.
Jérémy Botton, the former general manager of the French Tennis Federation, was one of the other front runners for the position.
As well as his work with Paris 2024, Thobois has also served as the finance director of the 2003 IAAF World Championships in Paris and was chief executive of the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France.
Tony Estanguet, the erstwhile bid president who himself is occupying the equivalent position with the organising committee, was today forced to defend the decision to advertise for a chief executive, saying on a conference call with journalists: "We wanted to be transparent with this process. The idea was to admit that we start a new phase. We were in a bidding phase and now we are in an organisation phase.
"The outcome for this first phase has been very postiive. I wanted to question the whole thing and that's why I decided to work with a company to help us in this process."
When pressed on whether Paris 2024 would continue to hire costly external firms to assist in its recruitment, Estanguet added: "It will also be the case for the next positions. We will open the process for the different positions of directors. We haven't selected who will be the company to assist us but it will be the same process that we used for the CEO."
In September, Estanguet, who chaired Paris’ bid to host the games, was forced to defend the bid team’s expenditure at the International Olympic Committee session in Lima earlier that month, following criticism that it was not required on the basis that the event in the Peruvian capital was effectively a rubber-stamping exercise.
The Paris and Los Angeles delegations that headed to Lima on 13 September already knew that they had all but been guaranteed the 2024 and 2028 Olympics, respectively, following the IOC’s decision in July to pursue a dual award.
The news that Paris 2024 had spent €1.5 million ($1.8 million) on the session, provoked a backlash in an article in Mediapart, the investigative news website, which criticised it as a waste of taxpayers' money.
Paris 2024's recruitment drive will continue early next year with appointments in marketing, communications and finance a target for Estanguet, who said he is hopeful that the committee can begin hiring "as soon as possible."
The committee will also be recruiting for a deputy director general to support Thobois.
Estanguet added that "it will be possible" for candidates that applied for the CEO role to take up other positions within the bid committee.