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Security plans unveiled for Paris 2024 opening ceremony on Seine

By JONATHAN POWELL in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-05-26 09:10

The Olympic rings are seen in front of the Hotel de Ville City Hall in Paris, France, March 14, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

The Paris 2024 Olympic Games organizing committee this week outlined details of its plans for protecting next summer's opening ceremony from terrorism, drone attacks, and other potential risks.

France will deploy 35,000 security and military personnel to protect the July 26 opening of the Games, an event that will span 6 kilometers along the River Seine, with an estimated 600,000 spectators lining the route, reported the Associated Press news agency.

The event will be the first time an Olympic opening ceremony has not been held inside a stadium, with the extravagant parade set to include 160 boats carrying athletes and officials from more than 200 countries, and spectators lining streets and bridges in the heart of the French capital.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, Paris 2024 organizing committee president Tony Estanguet and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo detailed elements of the huge security plan for the ceremony at a news briefing in Paris this week.

There has been increased focus on security protocols around the ceremony and Games, due to renewed fears of terrorism and amid recent violent protests against pension reforms brought about by President Emmanuel Macron, reported Le Monde newspaper.

"Drones represent a totally new threat," said Darmanin. "We've done a lot of work on the classic threat, whether it's delinquents, whether it is a person armed with a weapon, a bomb.... We know how to detect and combat this threat.

"The arrival of drones loaded with explosives in the theater of civilian operations is new. There is no certainty this threat will materialize, but it is the hardest to stop."

Paris decided to make the city itself the focus of the opening ceremony, foregoing a stadium, and the usual song and dance performances that display national culture in such events.

Organizers have previously explained how the boats for each national delegation will be equipped with cameras to allow television and online viewers to see the athletes up close. The boats will wind their way from east to west, crossing through the center of Paris.

The parade will come to a stop at the Trocadero, near the Eiffel Tower, where the remaining elements of the Olympic protocol and final shows will take place.

"It's the biggest audience that France will ever have had, the most beautiful showcase," said Paris Olympic Games organizing committee president Estanguet.

"Our responsibility is to create dreams, to show how incredible this country is."

"The open and public character of this ceremony will enable hundreds of thousands of people to see it for free," added Hidalgo.

It's been reported that an extra 400 security cameras will be added to Paris streets during the Games, bringing the total to 4,400, which has raised privacy concerns, with critics believing the security infrastructure could become a permanent consequence of the Games, which are set to take place from July 26 to Aug 11.

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