An extraordinary opening ceremony, outdoors, in the historic heart of the capital: such is the promise of the organizers of the Paris Olympic Games in the summer of 2024. However, fourteen months from this unprecedented outdoor ceremony, the event remains “an artistic and organizational challenge”, according to the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. The latter signed a security protocol for the ceremony on Tuesday, May 23 with the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, and the President of the Organizing Committee for the Games, Tony Estanguet.
The ceremony will take place on the Seine, “transformed into a parade ground for athletes”, the evening of July 26, 2024. “For the first time in the Summer Olympicsa ceremony will take place outside the stadium,” boasts the official site of the Games.
► A parade on the Seine
In reference to 2024, the July 26 ceremony will start at… 8:24 p.m. It will last ” three hours “, according to the interior minister. The 10,000 or so athletes will open the ceremony by parading on the river aboard 115 boats, sailing from east to west, from the Pont d’Austerlitz to the Pont d’Iéna, passing in front of Notre-Dame de Paris, the Musée d’Orsay or the Louvre.
Heads of State and Government from around the world will attend. The parade will conclude at nightfall with a grand ceremony at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
► How to attend?
Questioned on Tuesday during the signing of the security protocol, Gérald Darmanin repeated the figure of 600,000 places for the overall gauge, already announced a few months ago. On the low quays, closest to the water, 100,000 places are put up for sale between 90 and 2,700 € by the organizing committee (Cojo).
“Several hundred thousand people” will be able to see the opening ceremony free of charge, on the high quays, added the minister, refusing to give more precise figures. They will have to register beforehand on a platform. “All along the route, the high quays will be open to the public with free access. 80 giant screens and a sound system will allow everyone to enjoy the magical atmosphere that this extraordinary show will broadcast throughout the capital.”promise the organizers.
The Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, had recently assured that a figure “around 400,000” would soon be announced. She had also insisted on these free spectators while a controversy has swelled since this winter on the prices deemed prohibitive for tickets to attend the events.
► A security challenge
Behind the scenes, the discussions are tough. On one side, the town hall of Paris and the Cojo eager for a big popular festival where onlookers walk freely. On the other, the police headquarters, which wants to manage pockets of spectators by sector. The docks will be divided into 15 or 20 sections, police and political sources said, without further details.
According to the Minister of the Interior, the opening ceremony alone should mobilize “nearly 35,000 internal security forces” (police and gendarmes). An unprecedented number.
📑 To face this challenge, we are signing today with Tony Estanguet and Anne Hidalgo, the guiding principles for the distribution of our responsibilities for securing this unprecedented event. pic.twitter.com/6Y5CZ3ixMa
— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) May 23, 2023
In addition to these security forces, there will be 2,000 municipal police officers from the City of Paris for the high quays section, as well as “2,000 to 3,000 private security agents” for low platforms, “under the responsibility of the State, which will oversee all security for the Games and this ceremony”according to Tony Estanguet.
► What cost?
Gérald Darmanin did not specify the cost of securing the opening ceremony but assured that in total, for the Ministry of the Interior, the cost of security for the Olympics represented “200 million euros”. A “first cipher” of a preliminary report by the Court of Auditors in the summer of 2022 mentioned “419 million euros” for state security expenditure (in the broad sense).
On the other hand, he announced that the Ministry of the Interior would manage and “finance” the mandatory registration platform to access these high platforms.