Olympics-Opening ceremony in Stade de France only if major security risk, sports minister says

By Thomson Reuters Apr 17, 2024 | 4:38 AM

PARIS (Reuters) – France would only move the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympic Games to a stadium if there was a major security risk, as this would mean scrapping the parade on the River Seine and restricting the ceremony to speeches, Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said.

Oudea-Castera told Franceinfo radio on Wednesday that there was “no specific terror threat” to the July 26 ceremony and that holding the event on the Seine remained “the central scenario”, but France had prepared alternative plans if security requires it.

Conflict in the Middle East and Ukraine as well as a threat of terrorist attacks have led the French government to raise its security alert to its highest level this year.

“If there was (the likelihood) of an absolute disaster, one can imagine a ceremony strictly limited to protocol,” Oudea-Castera said, restricting it to official speeches in the Stade de France stadium.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday he was confident the planned Games ceremony with big crowds around the Seine, where some 160 boats would set off for a 6 km journey, would be a huge success.

But, he said, Plan B would be would be to restrict the ceremony to the Trocadero square facing the Eiffel Tower in central Paris – which Oudea-Castera said on Wednesday would preserve its “artistic dimension”. Plan C would be to move the event to the Stade de France stadium.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Toby Chopra)