Paris is not afraid of its Olympics

Paris is not afraid of its Olympics

On July 26, 2024, the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games will be held along the Seine with 4 policemen every 100 meters

Fluctuat nec mergitur. The motto of Paris echoes every morning in the head of the French interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, one year after the event of events: the Summer Olympic Games, which will be held in the French capital from 26 July to 11 August. Because it is tossed about by the waves, France, with its powder keg banlieues always ready to explode and with the manifs that hold the country hostage for months, but it doesn't sink. “We are always better when we are prepared for the worst,” says Tony Estanguet, president of the organizing committee of the 2024 Paris Olympics. Of course, the main challenge for the French government will be the security one, starting with the delicate management of the opening ceremony. It won't be like the others. For the first time ever, the overture will not take place inside a stadium, but along the Seine, en plein air. On board a hundred barges, the 10,500 athletes who will participate in the Olympics will travel the river that crosses Paris from the pont d'Austerlitz to the pont d'Iéna, opposite the Trocadéro: a river walk that will touch all the most important monuments of the capital. But the unprecedented character of the ceremony which will be, according to the organizers' swollen words of grandeur, "the most spectacular of all time", will in fact be a security puzzle. "My task is not the easiest because I am asked to protect events that are not yet precisely defined," Minister Darmanin declared before the Senate at the end of October. The reference is to the project of the artistic director of the ceremony, the theater director Thomas Jolly, which is still being finalized and whose details are top secret. The fact is that Darmanin and France cannot afford any more foolishness in the world, as happened in 2022 during the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, when the security stress test was a total failure.

And to move towards that zero risk which does not exist, but which can be approached, four working groups have been set up, renamed "high banks", "low banks", "Seine" and "security", which have been meeting for several months now with a slogan, planning, and one fear, the terrorist attack. “A terrorist cannot dream of a better audience,” whispers Darmanin, aware that there will be at least one billion spectators in front of the screen on 26 July 2024. "The need for river and land coordination is immense, because the athletes have to be moved from point A to point B," explained Bruno Le Ray, head of security at the IOC in Paris.

On land it is the reception of the public located on both sides of the river route, or 12 kilometers adding the two banks together, the thorniest dossier. On the low banks of the Seine, managed by the Cio, 100,000 people are expected, those who have paid between 90 and 2,700 euros to experience this epochal moment. On the high banks of the Seine, monitored by the prefecture of Paris, the municipality and the state, there will be more than 300,000 spectators. The latter will not need to shell out even one euro to attend the river parade of the athletes. “It is the first time that an Olympic Games opening ceremony can be attended free of charge,” enthused Pierre Rabadan, Paris sports councilor. In terms of personnel, 45,000 policemen and gendarmes will be deployed during the opening ceremony. "Out of 12 kilometres, this means 3,750 men per kilometre, or 4 every 100 metres", specified the French interior minister. To the national police and the gendarmerie must be added the 2,000 municipal policemen, as well as the special intervention forces, Bri, Raid and Gign.

Next year's Olympic Games will also be synonymous with mass tourism. And the Paris municipality, led by the socialist Anne Hidalgo, is preparing well in advance to welcome the large flows of tourists who will invade the capital even without a ticket to access the competitions. In 2021, the Parisian council launched the Assises du tourisme durable, with the aim of making tourists' stay in Paris more sustainable, through the decarbonisation of travel within the capital, the enhancement of cycle tourism, the end of disposable plastic in the tourism supply chain, the development of access to drinking water from the Eau de Paris network to combat waste, but also the optimization of the accommodation offer to avoid steep price increases. Soon all this will be put on paper in a "Manifeste de l'hospitalité", as reported by Corinne Menegaux, director of the Parisian tourism office. “Those who sign the hospitality manifesto will undertake to avoid a delusional rise in prices. Its objective, in preparation for the Olympic Games, is to make all Parisian tourism players aware of the notions of hospitality in the broadest sense of the term,” explained Menegaux. The Paris Tourism Councilor, Frédérique Hocquard, mentioned three themes on which emphasis will be placed: ecological resilience, fluidisation of the visitor's journey and interactivity with the local fabric. “The actors who engage on these issues will be valued,” Hocquard underlined, adding that an agreement with the large unions in the hotel sector is being worked out to avoid an inflationary drift that would discourage many tourists. The Olympics will also be an opportunity to develop the events chapter. In each arrondissement, as communicated by the Municipality, there will be one or two official stands of the Olympic Games, where tourists will find animations, focus on local savoir-faire in Paris and screens where they can watch the competitions.

Between October 2023 and December 2024, in collaboration with the Olympic Museum of Lausanne, the Paris tourism office will also set up an exhibition renamed Spot 24 on the quai Jacques Chirac, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. The exhibition will celebrate the new Olympic disciplines, from 3x3 basketball to BMX freestyle, from surfing to skateboarding, from sport climbing to breaking, a sport that has its roots in the pacifist movement that came to life in the Bronx district of New York in the early 1970s, after a difficult period of gang violence, and which will make its debut against the backdrop of the Place de la Concorde at the Paris Olympics. Another important aspect: the Games will take place not only in Paris and neighboring towns, between the departments of Yvelines, the Hauts-de-Seine, the Seine-et-Marne and the Seine-Saint-Denis, but throughout France. The football tournament will take place in six other cities, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lyon, Saint-Étienne, Nice and Marseille: the sailing competitions will also take place in the Phocaean city. For surfing, however, we will fly to Tahiti, Polynesia, and more precisely to Teahupo'o, a pretty town that was chosen as its location in March 2020, beating the competition from other places in mainland France, including the très chic Biarritz. Organizers are keen to announce that Paris will host the greenest Olympics ever, that carbon emissions will be 55 percent lower than the London 2012 Olympic Games, that there will be a fleet of zero-emission buses in service during the Games and that the next Olympic Village will be a showcase for sustainable development, with buildings using 100 percent renewable energy made in France. On Wednesday, at the Elysée Palace, the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, met an Olympic Council with the main players involved. Promising to organize "Olympic Games that bring people together and help the French", he announced that sport will be "the great national cause" in 2024.

Source link