The opening ceremony to the 2024 Paris Olympics will be invite-only in order to combat the possible threat of terrorism, the French government has announced. (Photo by Ameer Alhalbi/Getty Images)


Olympics 2024 opening ceremony invite-only due to terrorism fears, France declares


The opening ceremony for the 2024 Paris Olympics will be invite-only – to combat the possible threat of terrorism – the French Government announced.

Officials had initially hoped to make the event freely available to all-comers, from tourists to local Parisians, with the total number of attendees having originally been expected to surpass 1 million.

French interior minister Gérald Darmanin dashed such hopes, telling the French Senate Law Committee on March 5 that the event will now be strictly ticketed, with the total number of those attending limited to 326,000.

While the lion’s share of these tickets will remain free of charge, they will only be made available to people invited to attend by the French State, other public authorities or the Paris 2024 Organising Committee.

“To manage crowd movement, we can’t tell everyone to come,” the French politician said regarding the decision. He added that, while authorities were not aware of any specific terror risk, a general increase in tensions in the country had now substantially increased the risk of an attack.

“For security reasons that everyone understands, notably the terrorist threat of recent weeks, we are obliged to make it free but contained.”

Darmanin clarified that the list of those invited by these groups would be reviewed by relevant intelligence officials. Police on the day will be allowed to refuse anyone entry to the event should officers deem it necessary to do so.

All those granted the green light to attend the ceremony will also need to present valid ID to secure access to the venue.

This substantial curtailing of the Olympic opening ceremony, to many, represents yet another blow for French President Emmanuel Macron’s Government.

Set to take place on the Seine, the President has been hyping up the opening ceremony, emphasising it would be the largest in the worldwide competition’s millennia-long history.

“We really want the ceremony to be popular, open to all, unique in terms of experience, very innovative and that it has meaning for the French, that it carries a message for the world,” he declared in 2021.

Such ambitions have melted away over time, with the original idea of a public event attended by 1 million people quickly dropping to around 600,000.

The decision to nearly half that attendance again, as well as to close it off from the general public, comes amid a spike in security fears in France largely brought about by widespread dissatisfaction with the French Government.

At home, the Élysée Palace Left has been battling with a number of protest movements on issues ranging from inflation to the European Uniuon’s “green” policies at home.

Macron’s support for Israel amid the current Gaza conflict has also once again increased fears over possible Islamist attacks.

France still experiences isolated incidents of fundamentalist violence following a peak of more co-ordinated terror in 2015 and 2016.

With this seemingly in mind, Darmanin warned in his statement on March 5 that a further curtailing of the number allowed to be present at the Olympic event may occur should security officials deem it necessary to do so.