Six months before the Paris Olympic Games, which are being held from July 26 to August 11, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, announced the drop in the number of spectators who will be able to attend the opening ceremony on the quays of Seine. Initially planned for around 600,000, the gauge is now “around 300,000” people, declared Wednesday January 31 Mr. Darmanin on France 2.

“The idea is that there are 100,000 people on the lower platforms”, with paid tickets, and “more than 220,000 people on the high platforms”, with free tickets. “And then there are all those who live and who will be able to rent, have evenings along the Seine,” he detailed. Mr. Darmanin announced in October 2022 to the Senate that the authorities anticipated “600,000 spectators”, including 500,000 on the high quays.

Re-questioned in May 2023 during the signing of the security protocol for the ceremony, the Minister of the Interior repeated the figure of 600,000 people. “Today, the opening ceremony is as planned,” said Gérald Darmanin on Wednesday morning.

Authorities rule out plan B

On January 17, the interministerial delegate to the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Dijop) Michel Cadot explained to the senators of the Committee on Culture, Education, Communication and Sport that a reflection was “in progress” on “ an adaptation of the concept itself around the Seine”, firmly excluding the hypothesis of a plan B at the Stade de France. Mr. Cadot then specified that the gauges for the ceremony were being “slightly” revised downwards, “probably with changes of the order of 10% to 15%”, without further details.

Le Dijop underlined the impact of maintaining certain second-hand booksellers’ boxes which could obstruct the view of the show. “If the boxes remain, there will be a third fewer spectators,” a key public player in the organization of the Games recently estimated, adding that the bookstore locations often occupy the “best spots” on the quays. high. The Police Prefecture is proposing the dismantling and then reassembly of 428 of the 932 boxes listed along the Seine. No compensation agreement has yet been reached between the parties.

For the first time in the history of the Olympic Games, the opening ceremony will not take place in a stadium but outside, on the Seine, complicating the management of security for such an event. Along six kilometers of the river, 115 boats will sail, with delegations of athletes, from the Austerliz bridge to the Jena bridge, in the presence of heads of state and government from around the world. The Olympics will mobilize an average of 30,000 police officers and gendarmes per day, sometimes peaking at 45,000, particularly for this opening ceremony.