PARIS: Large areas of central Paris will be out of bounds for most people a week ahead of the Olympics, with traffic allowed to cross the river Seine at only four locations, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Tuesday.

In the week leading up to the opening ceremony, police will put in place a vast anti-terror zone stretching all along the river Seine which athletes are set to sail down when the Games begin on July 26.

Around 20,000 homes lie inside the zone and anyone wanting to enter it — including workers or tourists with a hotel or apartment reservation — will need to have registered beforehand on a government website to obtain a QR code.

“Parisians will have five ways of crossing Paris during the week of preparations for the opening ceremony, one pedestrian bridge... and four bridges open to pedestrians and traffic,” Darmanin told reporters.

The closures underline the scale of the security challenge posed by the hugely ambitious opening ceremony which will see teams sail down a 6.0-kilometre (3.7-mile) stretch of the river in more than 100 boats.

Crossing the capital on the underground metro system will still be possible, but around 15 stations inside the anti-terror zone will be closed.

The high-security zone will shrink after the opening ceremony to the areas in the immediate vicinity of sports venues, which are dotted around the capital.

“It will be a magnificent moment for France and for the Olympics,” Darmanin said of the opening ceremony, stressing that no country had ever organised one outside the main athletics stadium.

A total of 326,000 spectators are expected to witness the ceremony with tickets, while up to 200,000 others will watch from homes overlooking the Seine or from residential river boats.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2024

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