France cuts spectator numbers for Paris 2024 opening ceremony by around half

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French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said Wednesday that some 300,000 spectators will be able to attend the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympics, about half of what was initially planned.

The giant spectacle on the Seine on July 26 will mark the first time that an opening ceremony will take place outside the usual setting of a stadium.

It will also involve a massive security operation, with the deployment of tens of thousands of police and military personnel.

The athletes will parade through the heart of the French capital aboard boats on the Seine over a 6-kilometer course. Both banks of the river will be lined with spectators, behind multiple security cordons.

Speaking on French television channel France 2, Darmanin said current plans would accommodate 100,000 paying spectators with river views and more than 220,000 people with free tickets on the upper river banks.

Organizers had initially estimated that around 600,000 spectators could attend the ceremony, but Darmanin did not explain why they revised those figures.

When asked if he suffered from insomnia thinking about the ceremony, Darmanin replied that he slept well.

“I know that we have the best security forces in the world and that we will be able to show that France is capable of winning medals and above all of welcoming the world without problem,” he declared.

In December, French President Emmanuel Macron said the ceremony could be moved for security reasons if France was hit again by extremist attacks. He cited the deadly extremist attacks that hit Paris in 2015 as an example of the type of serious crisis that could force a rethink.

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