Olympic bosses have “very high confidence” in the French security forces to deliver a safe Games in Paris this summer amid heightened tensions in the Middle East.
Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip, which came in response to attacks by Hamas militants on October 7 last year, shows no sign of abating, with relations across the entire Middle East region having become strained.
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) initially blocked Israel’s participation in an under-20 event this month on safety grounds but has now reversed that decision.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is convinced the French government has taken the necessary steps to ensure competitors, officials and spectators are safe in Paris.
“We do have very high confidence in the authorities to make sure that these Games are safe and secure,” IOC director of communications Mark Adams said at a briefing in South Korea on the eve of the Winter Youth Games.
Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi added: “This confidence is built on the report that the IOC executive board received in December, where the Prefect of Police in Paris but also the interior ministry delegate reported very precisely on the measures that will be taken at the Games.
“They are mobilising all the resources needed to the tune of about 45,000 police forces and security forces on the day of the opening ceremony (on July 26) and on the remaining days about 35,000 each day, 24 hours a day.
“This is a real great effort that is being made here.”
Dubi said the principles laid down around integration of security after the chaos that occurred at the Champions League football final in Paris in May 2022 had been “very well followed”, citing the absence of any major issues when France hosted the Rugby World Cup last autumn.
He added: “More recently (there were) about a million people on the Champs-Elysees to mark the turning point between 2023 and 2024, so really these are elements which give us great confidence.”
The IOC representatives were also asked about the process for independently evaluating the eligibility of Russian athletes at the Paris Games.
The IOC finally confirmed last month that athletes from Russia and Belarus would be allowed to compete as neutrals in Paris amid those countries’ ongoing invasion of Ukraine, provided eligibility criteria were met.
Only athletes who have not shown active support for the invasion and are not contracted to the military or security services will be invited to participate.
Adams said the extra step was not an indication that the IOC was unhappy with how individual sports federations had handled the eligibility criteria in their qualifying events, and added: “Obviously, when we are responsible for our own competition, then we have to be doubly sure because we have the full responsibility.
“So that’s why we will be taking these extra measures on top which will make everyone feel more confident and much more comfortable with the situation.
“We are in the process of identifying and appointing independent analysts who will go through each of those athletes to make sure that they don’t breach our guidelines.”
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