New Delhi: The opening ceremony of the Paris Olympics which will take place on July 26, 2024 will take part on the River Seine, organisers announced on Monday, breaking the long-held Summer Games tradition of a stadium procession of athletes and officials.
More than 160 boats filled with athletes and officials from more than 200 countries will sail almost 6km between the Pont d’Austerlitz and Pont d’lena bridges in central Paris, with the closing ceremony scheduled to be held at the Trocadero, an expanse of gardens and fountains which overlooks the Eiffel Tower.
“Today is a stand-out moment,” said Tony Estanguet, a three-time Olympic canoe C1 gold medalist who heads up the Paris 2021 organising committee.
“There are a lot of emotions, a lot of enthusiasm. The opening ceremony is by far the biggest of markers.”
Paris 2024 organisers are expecting crowds of 600,000 people for what they call the largest-ever Olympic ceremony.
Part of the public will be dispersed along the banks of the Seine in ticketed stands while the rest are able to take part for free.
France President Emmanuel Macron rubberstamped the idea of having the ceremony on the Seine in July despite some concerns voiced over how to best ensure security for such a massive event that passes by many well-known parts of Paris’ iconic cityscape.
Security officials had asked for a limit of 25,000 people while organisers and the Paris city hall had initially argued for two million, according to a mayoral source.
Prime Minister Jean Castex oversaw an interministerial committee meeting last month during which he asked Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin to make some “suggestions” over security for Olympic sites, notably the opening ceremony.
Castex said he wanted proposals “by the end of the year for the opening ceremony and June 2022 at the latest for all sites and events”.