Paris police chief outlines security measures for Olympics

PARIS (AP) — With the Paris Olympics a month away, city police chief Laurent Nunez addressed security concerns on Friday.

Nunez said police forces remain on high alert. The Olympics start on July 24, and two days later is the opening ceremony.

“We are concerned about the threat of terrorism, especially Islamic terrorism, but also the low-intensity threat from radicalized environmentalists, left-wing extremists, and the pro-Palestinian movement,” Nunez said at a news conference.

"There is still no clear-cut threat to the Games or to our country, but I would remind you that at the end of May, two individuals were arrested in Saint-Étienne and were plotting an attack directly aimed at the Olympic Games.”

Nunez announced plans to deploy around 30,000 police officers each day, including armed police, with a peak of 45,000 for the opening ceremony on the Seine river. The police will be supported by the military, with about 18,000 members of the army involved during the competition.

“Since the end of the Second World War, there has never been such a massive mobilization of military forces on French soil,” said General Christophe Abad, who is in charge of the military operations in Paris.

During the opening ceremony, Nunez confirmed that 35 security boats will accompany the 94 riverboats carrying athletes along a six-kilometer (nearly four-mile) section of the Seine. Snipers will be stationed along the route, and the three tactical forces of the French police —BRI, RAID, and GIGN — will cooperate for the first time ever during the ceremony.

“We will create a bubble on the ground, in the air, and in the water,” Abad said.

Nunez assured that police plans for securing the Paris Games remained unchanged regardless of the results of the snap elections on July 7.

The prospect of the far-right party National Rally coming on top in the elections and taking a main role in President Emmanuel Macron’s next government has already led to street protests this week, with another round potentially occurring after the results.

“I have substantial reinforcements at my disposal that will allow me to handle these demonstrations,” Nunez said.

Concerns regarding private security were also addressed. Initially projected to be about 20,000, the number of private security agents for the Olympics is expected to be about 25,000, according to Nunez.

At this stage, 93% of private security needs have been met. But organizers are still looking for 400 agents for the opening ceremony.

“We’re very confident that we’ll be able to meet all our needs between now and the start of the Games,” said Tony Estanguet, president of the Paris Games organizing committee.


AP Olympics:

Tom Nouvian, The Associated Press