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French spies want plans scrapped for Olympics opening ceremony – media

Last week’s terrorist attack in Russia has reportedly raised concerns over the event becoming a target

French intelligence services have recommended scrapping plans for a grand opening ceremony for the 2024 Paris Olympics because of security concerns, the Europe1 news outlet has reported, citing sources.

Under the current plan, the ceremony in the French capital on July 26 is set to be a lavish event on the River Seine, involving a boat parade of athletes and tens of thousands of spectators watching the proceedings along the banks.

However, France’s General Directorate of External Security (DGSE) is reportedly worried that the scope of the event is too big, and that it presents too many safety risks in the face of potential terrorist plots.

“We have to switch to plan B,” an intelligence source told the news outlet. The existence of a contingency for the opening ceremony was first mentioned by French President Emmanuel Macron in December. While it is currently unclear what the plan entails exactly, French media have speculated that it may involve anything from cutting the scope of the venue to calling off the athletes’ parade on the Seine completely and moving it to an indoor space.

According to a Europe1 source, French security services have been forced to reassess the threat to the Olympics after Friday’s terrorist attack in Russia, in which four gunmen stormed the Crocus City Hall concert venue near Moscow, killing over 140 people and injuring many others.

The gunmen responsible for the massacre, identified as Tajik nationals, were apprehended hours after the attack in a Russian region bordering Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the perpetrators as radical Islamists. They had allegedly been recruited through an online chat operated on behalf of ISIS-K, an Afghanistan-based offshoot of the terrorist organization Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). Russia’s Investigative Committee on Thursday also claimed that the perpetrators were linked to Ukrainian nationalists and had received funding for the attack in the form of cryptocurrency.

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France raised the terrorism threat level in the country to its maximum following the assault in Russia.

“For the past week, there has been a lot of moving around among the Central Asian nationals that we usually follow,” the intelligence source told Europe1. He added that the agency has stepped up monitoring Turkmen, Kyrgyz, and Kazakh nationals and suspected Islamists in order to uncover potential plots targeting the Olympics.

The DGSI was scheduled to discuss its concerns regarding the opening ceremony and overall security of the Games with Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Thursday.

The Paris 2024 Olympics are set to be held from July 26 to August 11, followed by the Paralympics from August 28 to September 8.

March 29, 2024 at 05:14PM

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