15 Novembre 2023

Inaugural conference: Anticipating the risks around the Paris 2024 Olympic Games

A major event with unique risks

Keynote speakers examined the security challenges arising from the Paris Olympics and discussed the measures that will ensure safety during the event.

“France’s ability to host this major event safely is a prerequisite for its success,” said Prefect Yann Jounot, CEO of Civipol and President of Milipol Network. Indeed, organising the 23rd Olympiad is a huge undertaking. Speaking at Tuesday’s inaugural conference session, keynote speakers walked the audience through the ins and outs of the event and how French authorities are preparing for the risks involved.

Taking place from 26 July to 11 August 2024, in Paris, its surrounding suburbs, and other towns in France, the Paris Olympic Games and the Paralympics from 28 August to 8 September are expected to attract 16 million visitors from around the world. Yet France is no newcomer to organising international sporting events, as Prefect Michel Cadot, Inter-ministerial Delegate for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (DIJOP) pointed out. “We have, therefore, a large amount of experience that we are improving on and strengthening.”

Prefect Cadot did admit that the Olympics are much larger in scope than any other event France has organised, and part of the difficulty is due to the multitude of venues. “The Games are not only held in stadiums, gymnasiums, or swimming pools, they are also held in the heart of the city.” There will be no less than 41 different sites for the Olympics and 19 for the Paralympics.

The risks and challenges brought by an event of such scope are vast. Prefect Cadot presented a national risk analysis, which he said “is ultimately the framework within which we are developing the coordination of responsibilities between the various players.” The list stipulates no less than a total of 289 risks, including the risk of terrorism, individual attacks, thefts, cyber security risks, as well as natural risks springing from climate change.

To address these risks, the deployment of security forces foreseen is sweeping. On average some 33,000 police officers will be deployed per day, 10,000 military, including a large number of reservists from around the country, and 19,000 private security operatives, said Prefect Cadot. In addition, 45,000 volunteers will participate and video protection will also be deployed for identification purposes as well as to detect situations such as over elevated crowd density.

Prefect Stéphane Bouillon, Secretary General for National Defense and Security (SGDSN) stressed that France can never be too careful: “We are increasingly vulnerable, and every demonstration, every political, cultural, religious, recreational or sporting event, becomes an obvious target.” Mentioning the terrorist attacks in France just eight years ago he stressed: “This war is far from over. Whether we like it or not, sporting events are a battlefield.”

According to Prefect Bouillon, the entire French State has been mobilised in preparation for the games, alongside the organising committee, the inter-ministerial delegate and local institutions. “The President of the Republic regularly convenes a Defence Council which will work directly on security issues, involving all the ministries concerned. These include the interior, sport, the army, transport, foreign affairs, and health,” he said.

Beyond the actual games

Organising the Paris Olympic games extends far beyond the games themselves, as Amélie Oudea-Castera, French Minister for Sport and the Olympic & Paralympic Games stipulated. Several related activities and initiatives will be taking place across France leading up to the games, for example the Olympic and Paralympic Week, which will be held in French schools at the beginning of April and stemming from the Paris games, the French government is also looking to raise awareness around sport. The aim is to “make our country a more sporting nation, in which sport plays a more important role at school, in the workplace, in health, in care, in prevention,” said the Minister.