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Paris Olympic organisers trumpet their readiness as 100-day countdown looms

By Paul Myers - RFI
Olympic Games AFP - BERTRAND GUAY
WED, 10 APR 2024 LISTEN
AFP - BERTRAND GUAY

Paris 2024 Olympic chiefs on Wednesday declared themselves primed and prepared for any last-minute hitches ahead of the formal 100-day countdown celebrations before the start of the Games on 26 July.

Speaking at the nerve centre of their operations in the northern Parisian suburb of Auberviliers, organising committee boss Tony Estanguet hailed the diligence of an array of administrators and logistical staff who have been working on the project since Paris was awarded the 2024 Olympic Games in September 2017.

"We have this conviction that all the basic steps have been taken by the Paris 2024 teams," said Estanguet.

"Our deadlines have been met, one after the other, whether in terms of infrastructure or the revenue that has been secured, or ticketing, which has been a great success to date.

"We're ready to face this final stretch with the confidence we've built up over the last few years. And humility too, because we have no doubt whatsoever that it won't be plain sailing all the way to the end and that there will undoubtedly still be new challenges to face.

"But the Paris 2024 teams are preparing themselves to deal with all the fine-tuning that may be necessary."

Fear

Concern over security at the Olympic andParalympic Games has increased ince the Islamic State group carried out a terrorist attack last month at a concert hall in Moscow that left 144 people dead and hundreds injured.

In the aftermath of the atrocity, the French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announced that French security services would implement the highest state of alert.

On Tuesday, Gérald Darmanin, the French Interior Minister, heightened fears over the imminence of an attack in Paris.

He said security wouldbe stepped up in the capital on Wednesday as nearly 50,000 people travel to the western fringes of the city to watch the Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona.

The move followed the emergence of a video purporting to be from Islamic State that said venues of Champions League games in Paris, London and Madrid were targets for attacks.

"We have anticipated the issue of security since we started organising the Games," said Estanguet.

Care

"We decided to bid for the event just after the terrorist attacks around in the city in 2015 so all the security measures that have been implemented for these Games have been at maximum level.

"Never before has France anticipated so much and deployed so many security resources. I have every confidence in our country's law enforcement agencies to provide security for these Games."

Estanguet's conviction came a few hours before a committee of senior French politicians in the Senate delivered their year-long inquiry into whether France – including its foreign territories – could safely deliver an international sporting event of such magnitude.

Scrutiny

Questions arose over the country's capacity after the Champions League final at the Stade de France in May 2022 between Liverpool and Real Madrid.

Liverpool supporters narrowly avoided a catastrophic crush after they were hemmed in and they were also subjected to physical assaults and robberies by gangs of passing criminals.

Several French politicians – including Darmanin and the sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra – blamed ticketless Liverpool supporters for the chaos and the delayed start to the game.

Their clumsiness was later exposed when an initialSenate investigation cleared Liverpool fans of the disorder.

"An enormous amount of extremely detailed work is being done at the highest levels of government to guarantee the safety of the athletes from all the delegations, and also the spectators from all the countries," Estanguet added.

"There is a lot of talk about the opening ceremony but the reality is that it's a whole area that needs to be made safe, and nothing is left to chance.

"Our job as organisers is obviously to give maximum value, ambition and boldness to this project so that it is exceptional.

'But if there is no safety. Everything else is pointless. So if there's one subject on which we've never cut corners, it's safety."

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