Olympics-Australia have trust in France over Paris Games security

By Thomson Reuters Apr 16, 2024 | 9:19 PM

By Nick Mulvenney

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s Chef de Mission Anna Meares said on Wednesday that while security was the first subject athletes raised with her about the Olympics, she had full confidence that Paris would put on a safe Games in 100 day’s time.

France raised its security alert to its highest level last month and President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that alternatives to holding the July 26 opening ceremony on the river Seine had been prepared in case they were needed.

Security is also at the forefront of Australians’ minds in the wake of two major stabbing attacks in Sydney in the space of three days, the first on Saturday at a shopping centre close to where Meares was speaking that resulted in six deaths and 12 injuries.

“Security is at the forefront of our planning, and it’s a major priority for us, we trusted the organising committee and the French government will do a good job in providing a safe and secure games,” Meares told reporters at the launch of the team’s opening ceremony uniform at Clovelly beach.

“We’re able to update our athletes as we get updates as well. So that’s definitely the first question that gets asked, and it’s the first question that we answer for them.”

The twice Olympic cycling champion was equally sanguine about reports that the water quality in the Seine might force the cancellation of the triathlon’s swimming segment.

“I think that’s just hypotheticals around situations should bacteria levels get to a level where it’s not safe. At the moment it currently is,” she added.

“And we will base all of our preparations and plans based off what the current plan is.”

Meares said that although there was still some work to do, she was confident Paris would put on a high quality Olympics.

“Yesterday we saw that the Olympic flame was lit, which is a very exciting milestone for the athletes and for the Olympic movement,” she said.

“It’s an enormous undertaking isn’t it, the Olympic Games? There’s still some completions occurring with the venues but largely the games are ready and we’re trusting that the Paris organising committee will put on a great Games.”

Australia finished sixth on the medals table with 17 gold medals in Tokyo three years ago but Meares was reluctant to predict how the Paris team, which she hopes will number as many as 480 athletes, would perform.

“I really like our swimming head coach’s line on this one, we’ll take as many medals as we can,” she said with a laugh.

“Why put a limitation on it?”

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)