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French press review 10 February 2018
The Winter Olympics have kicked off in South Korea. There's a different, and more dangerous, sort of sport being practised on the French ski slopes. And will far-right figure Jean-Marie Le Pen ever go away?
The main headline in Le Monde's internet edition is a bit of a non-event: "Winter Olympics," we read, "after the opening ceremony, competition begins."
Yeah! Thanks chaps. That's the way they do it every four years. First the opening ceremony, then "let the Games begin".
The centrist paper notes that there's not a lot of interest being shown in South Korea's capital city, Seoul, in the slippin', slidin', skatin' and skiin' fest taking place just up the road.
The Games venue, Pyeongchang, is less than 200 kilometres from Seoul.
The local communications giant Korean Telephone, KT to its friends, televised yesterday's opening ceremony on the facade of its city centre headquarters building. Practically nobody stopped to watch.
"Perhaps people are watching the ceremony at home," suggested one KT employee.
There are two problems, explains Le Monde.
Last year's corruption scandal which eventually led to the sacking of the South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, actually started with revelations about dirty deals associated with these very Olympic Games.
And then there are no local stars.
They have maybe one chance of a medal, in short-track skating. But no one has stepped up to take the place of Kim Yu-na, the now retired national hero of ice dance. It was she, by the way, who lit the Olympic flame in Pyeongchang, her home town, yesterday.
Not to mention the cold, -20°C last night, with a wind that would skin a polar bear. The Olympic stadium is apparently built in an area traditionally used for preserving fish, with the cold wind being perfect for that process.
The Games are not going to be a flop, however. Seventy-seven percent of tickets have been sold.
But Le Monde adds that many tickets have been bought by businesses and offered to employees instead of wage increases. We'll have to wait and see how many cold bums actually land on the spectator seats at the various venues.
Snorting on the ski slopes
Left-leaning Libération looks at another aspect of winter sport, suggesting that an awful lot of cocaine gets snorted in French ski resorts.
The cover picture has a bunch of skiers coming down a mountain of white stuff. And you just know it ain't snow.
Libé's editorial says the spreading fashion for getting out of your head on the slopes is illegal, dangerous and sad. The legal and security aspects speak for themselves. The sad part is to see the party rituals of the Paris nightclub spread to the summits of the nation's ski resorts.
Can't they just get high on sun, snow and clear blue sky?
The father also rises
I'm not sure that conservative daily Le Figaro has done much better than Le Monde in the headline stakes.
The right-wing paper's main story is devoted to the last annual congress of the National Front cofounder Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Yesterday a French court confrimed that Papa Le Pen is indeed still the honorary president of the party now run by his daughter, Marine, evn though it also confirmed that he had been expelled from the far-right organisation's ranks.
That may mean that he'll be able to attend the party congress next month, without having to call on the muscular assistance of 300 Breton bikers, as he had threatened.
"My father would do anything for a bit of media attention," says an exasperated Marine Le Pen.
And she'd better get used to it: even if part of the plan is to abolish Jean-Marie Le Pen's honorary presidency and then kick him out, the old duffer will still cast a shadow over the party's efforts to rise form the flames of the last presidential campaign, cast off its racist, xenophobic, skinhead heritage, possibly even change the party's name.
Le Figaro points out that Jean-Marie Le Pen will not be the only opponent of such moves, many hardliners pleading a "sentimental attachment" to the name and belligerent tone of the party the lady president hopes to modernise and somewhat sanitise.
Marine's troubles are not over yet.