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France plans 6,000 police to secure Olympic torch arrival

By AFP

April 26, 2024 07:52 PM


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Some 6,000 police will be deployed next month to secure the arrival from Greece of the Olympic torch in the French city of Marseille, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Friday.

The extra officers will be mobilised on top of local firefighters and police, meaning security will be even tighter than when Pope Francis visited the city in September 2023.

The Olympic torch is to be handed over to French organisers in Athens on Friday before they bring it to Marseille on a French 19th-century sailing ship.

The three-mast Belem is to set sail on Saturday from Greece and breeze into the Old Port in France's second-largest city on the evening of May 8, with crowds of around 150,000 people expected to be watching.

Darmanin said an elite tactical unit, bomb disposal teams, nautical police officers and an anti-drone team would be in place to secure the Old Port.

He added that more than 1,000 boats that have signed up to sail with the Belem along the coastline before it arrives in port would all have been inspected and "demined" during the day.

The minister said there was "no specified threat" to the event, but that law enforcement was preparing for several hypothetical scenarios.

These included one linked to "radical Islamism", though "the far right and far left" could also pose a risk, he said.

"We will set up everything required by anti-terrorist laws to monitor and prevent" any incident, Darmanin said.

French authorities had even prepared a plan B in case the wind was too strong -- higher than 25 knots -- and the Belem could not dock in the harbour.

"But as it's always great weather in Marseille, I don't imagine this will happen," he said.


AFP


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