Paris Olympics: Plan B for opening outlined in case of major threat

It would only come into play in the case of an attack between now and then, a senior security official is quoted as saying. It would mean the ceremony would not be open to the public

‘Plan B’ will see the athletes parading on the Iéna bridge, between the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadéro, instead of travelling down the Seine

The ‘Plan B’ for the Paris Olympics Opening Ceremony has been outlined, with athletes set to avoid taking to the Seine river completely in case of any major threats to the original plans.

The Opening Ceremony is set to take place on July 26. ‘Plan A’ will see the athletes travelling down the Seine.

However, in case of any problems or security threats, authorities will instead move to ‘Plan B’, with the athletes parading on the Iéna bridge, between the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadéro instead, AFP reports.

“The idea will be to get the athletes from the Olympic Village and transport them to the foot of the Eiffel Tower by bus,” an anonymous senior organiser is quoted as saying.

Then, the athletes would parade over the bridge before heading back to the Olympic Village.

No public spectators

None of ‘Plan B’ would be open to the public, in sharp contrast to ‘Plan A’, which is set to see 100,000 paying spectators on the lower quays of the Seine, and 220,000 members of the public invited to watch the procession from higher up.

"It's a scenario that maintains the semblance of a ceremony, but the probability of it taking place is slim,” the security source told AFP. “Basically [it will happen] if there is an attack between now and then, or if there is a specific, targeted threat to the Opening Ceremony.”

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Confusion over plans

The announcement, which has only been made to the AFP via its anonymous source, comes after months of confusion around a possible ‘Plan B’. 

In December, President Macron suggested that there would be alternative plans in place if needed, but head of the Organising Committee (Cojo) Tony Estanguet appeared to contradict this in January when he said that there were "no plan Bs" and that his teams were only working on the initial Seine plans.

On April 15, Mr Macron again referred to a “plan B, and even plan C”, in a bid to reassure the public, referring to “another ceremony…limited to the Trocadero”, or a backup plan for “the Stade de France”, because that is “what has traditionally been done", he said.

However, the Stade de France will not be available, as there is a Rugby 7s match scheduled to take place there on July 26.

The ‘Plan B’ plans come after the head of the investigation into the chaos at the Stade de France during the infamous Real Madrid-Liverpool game in May 2022 - in which fans were hit with tear gas and police struggled to contain crowds - warned that France should change its River Seine plans.

Read also: Change Olympic opening plans, warns Paris football final investigator 

Criminologist Alain Bauer, who was tasked by the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) to find out what failed at the final, said the Olympic Opening Ceremony might be the police’s biggest security challenge.

He has called for the “whole plan to be revisited and validated by independent and irrefutable experts and the final say should be given back to the Paris prefecture of police”.