French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin holds a press conference. GETTY IMAGES

In an interview with 'Le Parisien' published on Monday 8 April, the Minister of the Interior explained the plan put in place to secure the opening ceremony and the Paris Games in general.

The Minister of the Interior wanted to reassure. In an interview with 'Le Parisien' on Monday 8 April, Gérald Darmanin assessed the security measures for the Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in France this summer (from 26th July to 11th August and then from 28th August to 8th September).

According to him, there is no cause for concern: France will be safe during the Games, with 45,000 police officers and gendarmes on duty. "Paradoxically, the major events, which are very secure, are probably among the safest places, where there will be the fewest opportunities to act, although we must of course remain humble in the face of danger," assures Gérald Darmanin.

Holding the opening ceremony on the banks of the Seine in front of 300,000 people is "a good idea" for the Minister of the Interior, but he is prepared for "all eventualities". From there, if threatened, to a place far from the Seine? "In that case, we would implement the decisions taken by President Macron. There are many possible scenarios based on critical situations," he explained.

In the most likely scenario, if the outdoor ceremony goes ahead as planned, a whole area around the Seine will be closed to traffic a week before 26 July, the date of the big boat parade. 

On that day from 1 pm, "no one will pass, except for emergencies (ambulances, SAMU, SOS doctors, firemen...). Other emergencies will be accompanied by special police teams", explains Darmanin. Within the perimeter, about 15 metro stations will be closed.

A large number of heads of state will attend the ceremony. However, as "for the first time in the history of civil aviation" the airspace will be closed "from 7pm to midnight" on the day of the ceremony, officials from all countries will have to stay overnight in Paris.

Many hotels and embassies will be under increased security. In addition to the French police, some 2,500 foreign police officers and gendarmes "will come to help us" during the Games, explains Darmanin. "They will either protect their teams, lend us dogs to sniff out drugs, bombs or weapons or talk to their fellow citizens". The help will come from fifty countries, and their agents "mostly" armed.

Gérald Darmanin also spoke about the checks carried out on volunteers and security personnel who will be working around the Games. "Of the 195,000 administrative investigations already carried out [...] and the screening of the 285,000 private security agents, we have excluded 161 people, almost all of them French: 105 for radical Islam, 35 for the extreme right, 18 for the extreme left and three for foreign interference," said the Minister of the Interior.

He cites the example of a "radical Islamist" who wanted to carry the Olympic torch, or a "far-right type" who "wanted to go to Ukraine to fight on the side of Russia" and volunteered to do so. The Place Beauvau resident also detailed the government's plans to deal with the "threat of protests". These could include unfurling banners, putting their hands on the road or trying to extinguish the flame.

To avoid protests, Gérald Darmanin promised an "alternative route" for "each stage of the Olympic torch", which will arrive in Marseille on 8 May and travel through Paris until 26 July. "If a sit-in is organised, we can bypass it. If people throw themselves into the sea to stop the boat carrying the torch, we have planned a second landing point," he assured 'Le Parisien'.