No more public access to Paris Olympics opening ceremony

by Alice

The eagerly anticipated opening ceremony for the upcoming Paris Olympics, set to be a historic event on the Seine River, has undergone further revisions, as the initially planned provision of 600,000 free tickets to the public has been halved to approximately 300,000, now accessible by invitation only.

Initially, the intention was to offer tickets to the general public through open registration. However, last week, France’s Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, revealed that 104,000 seats along the lower riverbank will now be designated as paid tickets, while the remaining 222,000 seats on the upper banks will be free but allocated through a quota system, as reported by The Associated Press.


Explaining the decision, Darmanin emphasized the imperative to manage crowd movement, particularly in light of recent heightened security concerns. He stated, “For security reasons that everyone understands, notably the terrorist threat of recent weeks, we are obliged to make it free but contained.” Though no specific threats have been identified, the precautionary measures aim to mitigate potential risks.


Originally, a central aspect of the ceremony’s grandeur was the opportunity for the public to witness the spectacle from the riverbanks free of charge. However, as challenges related to security and logistical feasibility mounted, organizers opted to reduce the number of spectators by half, a decision previously reported by The AP in January.


Reserved tickets will not be allocated to international visitors; instead, they will be distributed among local sports federations, hosting towns and regions, and select organizations. While these entities may technically extend invitations to foreign travelers as part of their quotas, the primary objective is to prioritize local community engagement, as stated by the Interior Minister.

Despite concerns that the revised ticketing approach may discourage participation from travelers, Darmanin emphasized that an additional 200,000 individuals are anticipated to observe the procession from riverside buildings, with an additional 50,000 expected to gather in designated fan zones.

The limited distribution of tickets represents one of several challenges faced by Olympic organizers concerning the utilization of the Seine. Last month, following significant controversy, French President Emmanuel Macron assured that riverside booksellers, integral to the capital’s cultural fabric, would be permitted to retain their positions during the Games, recognizing their status as part of the city’s “living heritage,” according to the New York Times.

This year’s opening ceremony will mark a departure from tradition as the first to be held outside of a stadium, taking place in the heart of the city. Against the backdrop of the iconic Seine River, 10,500 athletes from 206 countries will navigate a six-kilometer (3.7-mile) route aboard 160 boats, promising a visually stunning and unprecedented inauguration of the Paris Olympics.



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