Contingency plans for Paris 2024 opening


Backup plan for Paris 2024 opening ceremony Image: IOC Olympics

Organisers of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games have revealed contingency plans are in place for the opening ceremony to be moved from the River Seine in case of a major security alert.

Reuters said that French President Emmanuel Macron revealed the event could be moved when asked if heightened security across Europe over tensions in the Middle East could thwart plans to hold the ceremony as planned.

He said, “Given we’re professionals, there obviously is a Plan B, Plan C et cetera.”

France raised its security threshold last October, when a man with a knife killed a teacher in a school in northern France.

In December, however, the sports minister and Paris 2024 organisers ruled out a change of plans after a man armed with a knife and hammer killed a German tourist and left two people wounded near the Eiffel Tower.

Reuters further stated that France expects up to 600,000 visitors when 160 boats are due to set off on July 26 from the Pont d’Austerlitz in central Paris for a 6km journey to the Pont d’Iena.

The event marks the first time in the history of the Summer Olympic Games, the ceremony will not be taking place in a stadium.

Paris 2024 said it is breaking new ground in sports competition by bringing sports out into the city and the same will be true for the opening ceremony, which will be held in the heart of the city, along its main artery, the Seine.

Boats for each national delegation will be equipped with cameras to allow television and online viewers to see the athletes up close.

Wending their way from east to west, the 10,500 athletes will cross through the centre of Paris, the overall playing field for the Games, which will showcase their sporting prowess over the next 16 days.

The parade will come to the end of its 6 km route in front of the Trocadéro, where the remaining elements of the Olympic protocol and final shows will take place.

Responding to the question of changing the opening ceremony, Paris 2024 said in a statement to Reuters, “There is no single fallback plan, but rather a variety of adaptation measures – what we call in our jargon contingency plans – which are not intended to be public in any other way.

“We have contingency plans for all identified risk scenarios: heatwaves, cyber attacks, and the ceremony is no exception.

“The President referred to these adjustment variables by taking an extreme scenario: a series of attacks, for example, but above all he reaffirmed his confidence in the collective ability of those involved to organise the ceremony as announced, emphasising that the event would take place with the highest standards of security and support,” the statement said.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, reported that in the eyes of security experts, the walls of stadiums and arenas create boundaries with limited entrances at which all entrants can be screened. By comparison, a ceremony sprawling for miles in the city center is a nightmare to defend.

France’s Interior Ministry promises 35,000 French police who, along with 2,000 Paris police officers and at least another 2,000 private security workers, will protect the parade and ceremony along with what Interior Ministry official Gerald Darmanin told Le Monde will be “an anti-terrorist perimeter.”

Former U.S. Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff said, “If you look at what’s going on around the world now, you’d be hard-pressed to feel complacent. I think a shooter is always a risk. A bomb is always a risk.

“Drones are a relatively new problem. It might be [that] one of the things you need to do is restrict the ability of drones to fly over the airspace you’re dealing with and then have a rule that if a drone does enter that airspace, it gets destroyed. So, I mean, I do think you’re going to have to adapt or plan for the possibility of some kind of drone attack.”

Paris 2024 will run from July 26th to August 11th, with Paris as its main Host City and 16 Cities spread across metropolitan France and one in Tahiti – an island within the French overseas country and overseas collectivity of French Polynesia – as a subsite. Tahiti will host surfing competitions.

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