French athletes condemn racist graffiti outside National Sports Institute

Portraits of black French athletes outside the INSEP in Paris were defaced with racist words

By ZK Goh ·

French athletes have expressed their disgust and anger after posters and walls outside the National Institute for Sports, Expertise, and Performance (INSEP) in Paris were defaced with racist graffiti.

Posters of black Olympic medallists like Teddy Riner and Dimitri Bascou were attacked.

Modern pentathlon Olympic silver medallist Élodie Clouvel first drew attention to the graffiti when she posted on Twitter saying the defacement left her "without words".

The INSEP responded with a "strong condemnation" of the insults, saying the institute was a "reflection of the diversity of France: of women and men of all origins, who surpass themselves so that the French tricolore wins."

Their tweet included the hashtags #sport, #respect, and #fraternity.

Riner's fellow judoka, the Rio 2016 silver medallist Clarisse Agbégnénou, said she was "shocked and sad" to find out about the graffiti.

"No one who is ignorant can come to divide us," she added, quoting Albert Einstein: "only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity."

French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, a swimming silver medallist at Sydney 2000, added her condemnation, calling the graffiti "despicable and cowardly acts".

Ghani Yalouz, Atlanta 1996 silver medallist in wrestling and director-general of INSEP, expressed his outrage in a statement released by the institute.

"We will not bow our heads, we will not yield any ground to hatred, cowardice and stupidity," he said.

President of the Paris 2024 Organising Committee Tony Estanguet said the graffiti was "unbearable" and "intolerable".

"The Olympic and Paralympic family remains uncompromising and united," he said.