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France scales back Paris Summer Olympics opening ceremonies amid security concerns

France is scaling back the number of spectators who will be allowed to view the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies in July, amid concerns over security and crowd control, the French government announced Tuesday. The opening ceremonies will be held on the River Seine, the first time the event will be held in a public space and not inside an enclosed stadium. File photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI
France is scaling back the number of spectators who will be allowed to view the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies in July, amid concerns over security and crowd control, the French government announced Tuesday. The opening ceremonies will be held on the River Seine, the first time the event will be held in a public space and not inside an enclosed stadium. File photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI | License Photo

March 5 (UPI) -- France is scaling back plans to host 600,000 spectators for the opening ceremonies of the Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games, the French government announced Tuesday, amid growing concerns over security and crowd-control along the River Seine.

The number of spectators along the 3.7-mile stretch from east of Paris to the Trocadéro will be capped at 325,000 on July 26. Slashing the crowd size came at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron, according to a top official with French intelligence services who said there are concerns about security and "the main threat is Islamist terrorism."

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Under the revised plan, no one will be allowed to watch the ceremony for free and any free access will be invitation-only, according to government officials who said there is space for 104,000 spectators to watch the ceremonies along the waterfront. Another 222,000 attendees will watch from bridges and streets, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said Tuesday during a Parliament hearing.

The nautical Olympics opening parade through Paris will include about 90 boats, carrying 206 delegations and 10,500 athletes. It will be the first time an Olympics opening ceremony will take place in a public space, instead of inside an enclosed stadium. A security perimeter will surround the center of Paris, during the ceremonies, and will be closed for days leading up to the event.

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While the French interior ministry has identified groups -- including the Islamic State and al-Qaida -- that could target the country during the Olympics, the ministry said Tuesday those groups do not have the financial capacity to act.

In 2015, Islamic State terrorists attacked the Stade de France national stadium, Bataclan music hall and restaurants in central Paris, killing 130 people and injuring more than 500 in France's deadliest terrorist attack. A French court found all 20 defendants guilty in June 2022.

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