As Paris Olympics Near, Security Concerns Grow

As Paris Olympics Near, Security Concerns Grow

As Paris prepares to welcome millions of sports fans, security and safety during the games loom large.  The Summer Olympics are set to commence in Paris on July 26, promising a surge of tourists and revenue for the city. However, French President Emmanuel Macron, along with Olympic organizers and security experts, are prioritizing the safety of both citizens and visitors.

Security Concerns

Terrorism: Terrorism poses a significant challenge for the games. Following ISIS-K’s recent attacks in Moscow, French officials have upgraded its terror threat level to maximum with a heightened level of vigilance for similar-style attacks. Given Paris’s history with terrorism (and France’s), the upcoming games, coinciding with the Taylor Swift Eras Tour, raise concerns. French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin informed a senate commission of preparations for potential attacks by lone individuals within France and groups outside the country. He emphasized that organizations like “al-Qaida or Islamic State” aim to target the West and France specifically, although lacking the immediate means to do so.

In response to escalated security concerns, authorities intend to screen over a million individuals prior to the games, including athletes, staff, and volunteers. Moreover, an elite tactical unit, formed in the aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympics tragedy, has been conducting simulated terror attack exercises, simulating worst-case scenarios and their responses, to guarantee optimal readiness.

Opening Ceremony :

Paris aims to captivate the world with a unique opening ceremony unlike any seen before. Departing from the tradition of stadium-bound ceremonies, the 2024 Olympics will embrace the city itself as its stage. Set against the iconic backdrop of Paris, the opening spectacle will feature 10,500 athletes gracefully cruising down the famous Seine River, accompanied by over 100 world leaders. This immersive experience will captivate spectators, offering a glimpse into the heart of the city’s charm. Given its intricate nature, the opening ceremony presents heightened risks compared to previous ceremonies held within stadiums. French authorities will be conducting comprehensive monitoring of the event, both on the ground and from the air. As a result, authorities have initiated a complex series of training drills replicating potential terrorist attack scenarios. As part of the security measures, France will close the airspace within a radius of 150 kilometers to and from Paris during the opening ceremony.


President Macron has stated he fears that Vladimir Putin will unleash some sort of cyberattack during the Olympics, calling Putin, “a systematic actor of destabilization in the world.” According to Franz Regul, head of cybersecurity for the Paris Olympic Committee, the biggest threats will be state actors who will strike during the opening ceremony or initial games. The worst-case scenario would be a coordinated cyber and terror attack. Authorities are doing everything in their power to prevent this and other types of cyberattacks. 

French authorities are vigilant against potential cyber threats targeting critical infrastructure essential for hosting the games. Initial investigations indicate that the opening ceremony remains a primary target for any form of attack, whether cyber-related or otherwise. In preparation for the event, French intelligence services have conducted drills and formulated multiple contingency plans to safeguard the games. These measures include penetration testing and enhanced readiness for dealing with malware. French officials have observed an increase in threats targeting cyber infrastructure, prompting heightened security measures. With just 50 days until the games commence, authorities assure the public that they are taking all necessary steps to prevent attacks across all fronts.

Crowd control: 

Crowd control is a crucial aspect of ensuring safety and security at large-scale events, and the games are no exception. With millions of guests expected to attend, maintaining safety is a top priority for French officials. To prevent overcrowding and the potential for stampedes or panic, authorities are exercising extra caution. Organizers and staff are taking measures to ensure that stadiums have adequate first aid stations and are not exceeding maximum capacity. This helps facilitate the smooth flow of spectators in concourse areas and ensures clear pathways to the nearest exits in stadiums and arenas, promoting safe evacuation in case of emergencies. 

In the past few years, there have been several high-profile stampedes and crushes, including the Meron, Israel crush of 2021, which left 45 men and boys killed, the Astroworld Festival crowd crush the same year that left 10 people dead, and the Seoul Halloween crowd crush that killed 159 and injured hundreds of others. These tragic incidents underscore the importance of proactive crowd management measures to prevent similar tragedies during large-scale events like the upcoming games.

Transportation Security: As the Olympics prepares to take over Paris, managing transportation and the influx of spectators becomes a monumental task. With numerous newcomers expected to arrive, the city’s public transportation systems are gearing up to accommodate the additional influx alongside the thousands of passengers already utilizing Paris’s extensive transit network. Buses, trains, metros, and more connect the city from end to end, making their smooth and safe operation during the games crucial to maintaining pedestrian flow.

Recognizing the importance of transportation hubs such as bus and metro stations, authorities are on high alert for individuals seeking to cause harm. Given Paris’s status as a tourist hotspot, on top of the Olympics, it’s vital to ensure the steady flow of vehicular traffic to mitigate accidents and potential deliberate vehicular attacks. Thus, the city is deploying approximately 20,000 private security officers to guarantee the smooth operation of these transportation hubs. However, recent resorts indicate a shortage of security officials, posing a significant threat to transportation and the games. Consequently, French authorities must impose restrictions on drivers in certain areas, albeit these measures may cause traffic congestion in certain streets.

Olympics Security: A Titanic Undertaking

As security concerns surrounding the games intensify, Olympic organizers are relying on approximately 45,000 Paris city police and military personnel to ensure the safety of the events. In addition, there is a requirement for 22,000 private security forces, who will be on high alert, patrolling the city and event venues extensively. However, there are reports suggesting that these numbers may decrease due to worker shortages.

Securing the Paris Olympics is an enormous undertaking, necessitating the collaboration of various groups working towards a shared objective. Despite the challenges posed by security, French leaders and Games organizers remain confident in their ability to achieve success. As Marc Guillaume, chief administrator for the Île-de-France region, stressed in a recent press conference, “There is no margin for error.”