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FRANCE: Paris ‘not worried’ riots will affect 2024 Olympics

THE city government in Paris said Monday it was “not worried” about knock-on effects from almost a week of riots on next year’s Olympic Games.

France has witnesssed several nights of violence in Paris suburbs and across the country since a policeman shot dead a teenager during a traffic stop last week.

Although he acknowledged being “concerned about the situation” in France, Emmanuel Gregoire, deputy to Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, said he had “no concerns about the impact” on the Olympics.

“We’re still a year away from the Games. We shouldn’t get our calendars mixed up,” Gregoire told AFP.

The Olympic “flame is an extraordinary opportunity to bring hope” in “a country showing extremely concerning signs,” mayor Hidalgo said at a Monday event outlining the torch route through the capital.

When the Olympic flame was brought through Paris in 2008 ahead of the Beijing Games, the route had to be completed by bus because of demonstrations by pro-Tibet protesters.

“We all have in mind the things that didn’t necessarily go well, we’re working for this to bring joy and enthusiasm,” Hidalgo said.

“We will live up to the security” needs of the Games, her sports chief Pierre Rabadan said — while adding that there would “no doubt” be disturbances.

Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said Monday that the government had “taken measures in recent days to again step up security of infrastructure” linked to next year’s Olympics.

“The nation is damaged by all of this. What’s going on obviously isn’t good for France’s image” abroad, Oudea-Castera added.

Nevertheless, “there were events like this about a year ahead of the London Games, with very violent demonstrations following police violence. London’s Games were very positive,” she said.

France’s ability to host major events like the upcoming Rugby World Cup and the Olympics had already been called into question over major failures in crowd management at the 2022 Champions League final at the Stade de France.

The venue, set to form the centrepiece of the Games, lies in one of the Paris suburbs shaken by violence since the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Nahel M. on Tuesday by a policeman.
AFP

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