Paris Olympics halves crowd numbers for opening ceremony along River Seine

Paris last hosted the Olympic Games 100 years ago. Credit: AP

By Hannah Ward-Glenton, Producer

Crowd numbers for the Olympic Games opening ceremony in Paris this summer have been cut in half, France's government has confirmed.

The extravagant show had originally planned to host 600,000 spectators, but capacity has been slashed to 320,000, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Wednesday.

Mr Darmanin didn't give a reason for the change of plans.

The parade, which will see athletes travel through the French capital on boats along the River Seine on July 26, will mark the first time an Olympics opening ceremony is not being held in the usual stadium setting.

The giant opening ceremony on the River Seine to launch next year's Olympic Games could be moved if there are security risks. Credit: AP

Speaking on French TV channel France 2, Mr Darmanin said the current plans would allow for 100,000 paying spectators with a waterside view, and more than 220,000 people with free tickets on the river’s upper embankments.

There will be an enormous security presence throughout the Games, with tens of thousands of police officers and soldiers deployed.

Police officers will also receive bonuses of up to 1,900 euros (£1,625) for working during the Olympics, after unions protested over working conditions during the Games.

Police officers demonstrate with flags turning the olympic rings as handcuffs during a demonstration in January. Credit: AP

“I know that we have the best security forces in the world and we’ll be able to show that France is capable of winning medals and, above all, of hosting the world without any problems,” Mr Darmanin said.

In December, French President Emmanuel Macron said the ceremony would be moved if the country was targeted by extremist attacks in the run-up to the event.

He cited deadly incidents that hit Paris in 2015 as an example of the type of severe crisis that could force a rethink.

Preparing for the Games

Preparations are fully underway for the Olympic Games, which haven't been hosted by the French capital in exactly a century.

Staff on Paris' public transport system have been given thousands of artificial intelligence-supported translation devices to help hundreds of thousands of tourists navigate the city, while the aquatics centre has been fitted with 11,000 stadium seats made out of recycled plastic.

The Stade de Nice, which will host some football competitions during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Credit: AP

Local farmers, chefs and restaurant owners are being called in to feed the masses, with organisers aiming for the menu to be more plant-based than ever before.

The International Olympic Committee also announced that there will be the same number of male and female athletes competing in the Games, heralding it as "the first Olympics in history to achieve numerical gender parity on the field of play."

While some sites are reportedly facing delays, one official said they were being monitored and that everything is expected to be ready on time, one of the Games' infrastructure officials said in mid-January.

100 years on

The last time France hosted the Olympics, Germany wasn't invited because of security reasons and there were just over 3,000 athletes, compared with the 10,500 expected to compete in July.

Paavo Nurmi, of Finland, leads the field during a track event at the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Credit: AP

One venue from Paris 1924 will also be reused in the 2024 Games. The Yves-du-Manoir stadium in Colombes hosted the opening and closing ceremonies, football and rugby tournaments 100 years ago, and will host the hockey this time around.

The 1924 Games also inspired the 1980s film Chariots of Fire.

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