France Readies a Plan B for Olympic Ceremony

Amid heightened security concerns, opening of Paris Games may be moved
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 15, 2024 1:15 PM CDT
Paris' Opening Ceremony Might Have to Relocate
French President Emmanuel Macron attends a demonstration on Monday by the French fencing team as he visits the Grand Palais ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.   (Yoan Valat, Pool via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said the opening ceremony for the Paris Olympics planned on the River Seine could be shifted instead to the country's national stadium if the security threat is deemed too high. France is on a high security alert ahead of the Paris Olympics and Paralympics, reports the AP. Security concerns are notably high for the opening ceremony, which involves boats carrying athletes along the Seine in a 3.7-mile parade and huge crowds watching from the embankments. Macron said France's law enforcement forces will be mobilized at an exceptional level for the security of the open-air event. "But if we think there are risks, depending on our analysis of the context, we have fallback scenarios," Macron said. "There are Plan Bs and Plan Cs."

  • The original plan: Organizers had originally planned a grandiose opening ceremony for as many as 600,000, most watching for free from riverbanks. But security and logistical concerns have led the government to progressively scale back its ambitions. Earlier this year, the overall number of spectators was reduced to around 300,000, and by invitation only. About 10,500 athletes will participate as well.
  • Plan B: To limit security risks, Macron said organizers could decide to shorten the itinerary of the parade on the Seine, and even to "repatriate the ceremony to the Stade de France" just outside Paris for a more conventional opening event.

  • Security measures: Macron said that security perimeters will be installed "days, even weeks" before the opening ceremony. He added that road traffic in the high-security zone will be brought to a standstill, and that French authorities will use "drone systems, coding, cyber protection."
  • The Olympic truce: Macron also said he wants "to do everything possible to have an Olympic truce"—a modern revival of the ancient Greek tradition to ensure warring city-states allowed safe passage for athletes to the games.
(More 2024 Paris Olympics stories.)

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