Macron calls for ‘Olympic truce’, presents alternatives for opening ceremony

Europe   Yoan ValatPool via Reuters
© Yoan Valat/Pool via Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to ensure there will be an 'Olympic truce' during the Summer Games to be held in Paris in July and August, in the face of ongoing international conflicts, in Gaza, Ukraine and in Sudan. He has also assured that the opening ceremony could be moved away from the Seine river in the case of a security threat.

“We will do everything to have an Olympic truce, we will work on it,” Macron said in an interview with BFM television on Monday, 100 days before the Games' opening ceremony on 26 July.

The idea of a an Olympic truce dates back to ancient Greece, when warring rulers agreed to lay down arms - ékécheiria – during the games so that athletes and spectators could travel safely to and from the host country.

"The Games are also a time for diplomacy, for peace," said Macron.

"We will work on an Olympic truce. It is something on which I will actually try to engage many of our partners," he said, referencing Israel's war in the Gaza strip, the war in Ukraine and the ongoing conflict in Sudan.

Opening ceremony 'plan B'

Macron, who was being interviewed from the Grand Palais exhibition hall, which has just reopened after three years of construction to get it ready to host the fencing and taekwondo competitions, also announced that France has alternatives to the opening ceremony, planned to be held on the Seine river, if there are security concerns.

The planned ceremony will have some 160 barges set off on a six-kilometre route on the river through the heart of the capital, in front of thousands of spectators, the first opening ceremony to be held outside a stadium setting.

Macron said security forces will be mobilised at an exceptional level to ensure security, but he said that France is not naïve.

"If we think there are security risks we'll have plan Bs, and even plan Cs," he said.

In the face of security concerns, organisers could decide to shorten the itinerary of route, and just hold the ceremony around the Eiffel Tower, or even change the venue, and hold the ceremony indoors, in the Stade de France stadium.

Swimming in the Seine

Regardless of what happens on the Seine with the opening ceremony, Macron said he would still swim in the river, which he promised would be clean enough for the Olympics.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has also promised to swim in the Seine, despite sewer problems that have cancelled or delayed pre-Olympic events.

(with newswires)