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France downsizes Paris 2024 opening ceremony crowd to around 300,000 spectators

The giant show on the River Seine on July 26 will mark the first time that an opening ceremony is held outside of a usual stadium setting

Paris 2024
With six months to go until the start of the Paris 2024 Olympics the countdown clock is pictured near the Eiffel Tower. Paris, France. January 26, 2024.STEPHANIE LECOCQ (REUTERS)

French Interior minister Gerald Darmanin said Wednesday that some 300,000 spectators will be able to attend the opening ceremony for the Paris Olympics, about half the size of what was originally planned.

The giant show on the River Seine on July 26 will mark the first time that an opening ceremony is held outside of a usual stadium setting.

It will also involve a massive security operation, with tens of thousands of police officers and soldiers deployed.

The athletes will be paraded through the heart of the French capital on boats on the Seine along a 6-kilometer (3.7-mile) route. Both banks of the river will be lined by spectators, behind multiple security cordons.

Speaking on French TV channel France 2, Darmanin said current plans would allow for 100,000 paying spectators with a waterside view, and more than 220,000 people with free tickets on the river’s upper embankments.

Organizers had originally estimated that around 600,000 spectators could watch the ceremony, but Darmanin did not give a reason for why they have revised those figures.

Asked whether he had insomnia thinking about the ceremony, Darmanin replied that is sleeping well.

“I know that we have the best security forces in the world and we’ll be able to show that France is capable of winning medals and, above all, of hosting the world without any problems,” he said.

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

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