Since the incidents at the Stade de France on May 28 during the Champions League final, all the police officers interviewed by RMC Sport have been concerned about the organization of the opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. More than 600,000 spectators are expected on the banks of the Seine on July 26, 2024. Maximum vigilance and preparation necessarily under surveillance for the police. Explanations.
“At least 600,000 spectators are invited to the party on the quays and bridges of Paris, ten times more than in a stadium in an Olympic configuration. 80 giant screens and a sound system will allow everyone to enjoy the magical atmosphere that this show outside -norme will broadcast throughout the capital”, promises the organization of Paris 2024 on its website. Except that, since the events at the Stade de France during the Champions League final, this phrase has taken on a whole new meaning. “It was already an important subject, it is becoming a capital subject, perhaps even a priority and we must not miss it”, admits a member of the Ministry of the Interior about this event considered to be the largest demonstration in the world and the largest ever organized in France.
We have to go back to December 13, when the board of directors of the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (OCOG) validated the organization of the opening ceremony on the Seine, a first outside a stadium. for the Summer Olympics. According to our information, the police wanted, during the preparatory meetings, a gauge limited to 250,000 people on the banks of the Seine.
Finally, 600,000 people will be present at this ceremony with a parade of more than 10,500 athletes, on 160 boats in the heart of Paris and above all 120 Heads of State and Government will attend this moment. On the police side, we say that a maximum of “400 to 450,000 people will be able to attend” on the banks of the Seine at this first party around the Games. “We are not going to compress people and the management of flows after the incidents at the Stade de France will become a key element”, confides a police source.
Between 90 and 100 UFM mobilized
As soon as the announcement was made, the police, via their unions, shared fears about the security of the event. This fear is, according to our information, also shared in the offices of the Paris Police Prefecture. “We are talking today about the fact that during this opening ceremony it will take between 90 and 100 UFM (Unit of mobile forces, editor’s note) mobilized, at least 10,000 police / gendarmes, it is considerable, confides a commissioner of Police at RMC Sport. And again, it was a plan before the events at the Stade de France, not to mention the protection of personalities, the politicians will now get involved. They will never want to reconsider their decision not to make the ceremony in a stadium. It would even take more UFM to secure this ceremony but we are not going to call all the forces present on French territory. It is therefore up to the police to adapt in two years. ”
During this event, Paris will not be the only city used. “It will be necessary to secure the football stadiums throughout the territory as well as the site in Marseille for the sailing events… Let’s not forget the route of the flame, insists this commissioner. We will have to present law enforcement on the whole country. Don’t you think that a ceremony in a stadium would be more reasonable for everyone in order to relieve the security forces?
“Maybe we should give it up”
An opinion that is beginning to be shared by certain political representatives in Ile-de-France. “The opening ceremony of the open-air Olympic Games on the Seine is a nightmare for all the security services, had confided Patrick Karam, vice-president of the Ile-de-France region in charge of Sports, on RMC / BFMTV on May 30. A security subject that is not yet completely locked in, it may be necessary to give it up. We cannot guarantee the safety of our compatriots throughout the course. And above all the costs will blaze.” The police and gendarmes already expect to have few holidays in this year 2024.
“Obviously what happened at the Stade de France raised questions, explains Pierre Rabadan, Sports Assistant at the Paris City Hall for RMC Sport. Leaving the stadium ceremony and going to the setting that we chose around the Seine is an organizational and security challenge. It has not changed after what happened at the Stade de France. Today there are working groups that coordinate and who inspect what can be done on the security aspect of the opening ceremony. We will wait for the return of these groups, to see the reality of what can be done. We want an open ceremony which will bring together the most world possible in optimal security conditions.”
How to secure the event on the banks of the Seine?
Another problem raised by a Parisian police official contacted by RMC Sport, the securing of the event in an aquatic environment. Who says ceremony on the water, says river brigade. According to our information and feedback from the police, two years before the ceremony, there are not enough boats to allow optimal security on the day of the event. Staff numbers are still insufficient.
“It’s quite stupid, but do you think that we are going to secure a world ceremony where there will be 600,000 people with our ten boats?, questions this police officer. We will have twice six kilometers of banks to cover, so 12 kilometers to secure at the water’s edge. This is surely the biggest risk.” In addition to the police, municipal police, gendarmes and the military, the organization will mainly rely on private security. Except that today, companies are facing major recruitment problems.
“We are in a demonstration”
Last October, on the sidelines of Milipol in Paris, a global event for the internal security of States, the Prefect, Ziad Khoury, director of the National Coordination for the Security of the 2024 Olympic Games (CNSJ), took the floor to explain the issues of these Olympic Games in terms of security. A man in the shadows and very discreet since the attribution of the Games but who is now becoming central in the preparation of the event.
“We are going to be under the gaze of the world with 25,000 accredited journalists, billions of exchanges on social networks, admits the Prefect. We are in a demonstration. We have experience of major events, sporting or not, whether we succeeded in organizing. We must continue on this momentum. While being able to adapt to the elements which await us. It is a showcase which imposes an obligation on us to succeed. We are working on a single option which is to make the Games a success and it’s collective.” A statement well before the events of May 28 at the Stade de France.
The 2023 Rugby World Cup in great rehearsal
The 2023 Rugby World Cup will serve as a great rehearsal for all the security services mobilized during the 2024 Olympics. “We will refine the system at that time”, we explain to the Ministry of Interior. A great repetition especially for the risks of cybercrime. With its thousands of spectators expected on French territory, nine months before the Games, the services will be able to test flow management (which posed a problem in the Champions League final) in this competition. As with the major events organized in France, the police will rely on the Olympic Intelligence Center for all matters relating to the reporting of information before and during the event with one key word: anticipating risks.
The OCOG had already revised upwards the budgetary part linked to security, which rose to 295 million euros. This amount could still grow. The security of the event will surely be a subject discussed on June 23, during the executive office of the OCOG, and on July 12, during the board of directors of Paris 2024.