To carry out the most daring opening ceremony Olympics history, French organizers are now — literally — on the same page.

Government of France, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of Paris Games 2024 and the French capital’s mayor signed an 11-page security protocol on Tuesday that publicly laid out for the first time some of the rough details of their planning to protect the unprecedented opening ceremony on July 26 from threats of terrorism, drone attacks and other risks to massive crowds and 10,500 athletes.

One notable change is that the hundreds of thousands of spectators who will watch the open-air gala for free, spread out along a 6-kilometer parade route on the River Seine, will have to pre-register for tickets. French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, in charge of Olympic security, had pushed for that shift so that throngs of non-paying spectators could be assigned designated seats on the river’s upper embankments, separated from 100,000 other guests who pay for a closer view of the water.

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Faced with experts’ concerns about the size and complexity of the security operation, Darmanin, organizing committee chairman Tony Estanguet and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo spoke at a press conference in defense of France’s decision to use the city center as the venue for the extravaganza, which for the first time transcended the security of a traditional arena setting.

It promises good television if all goes well, with iconic monuments and the Seine being cleaned up for Olympic swimming. But the unique logistics and security requirements could backfire spectacularly in front of a global audience for France if there are major problems.

“When France organizes the Games – the last time was 100 years ago – it does so with ambition,” Estanguet said. “It is a challenge to organize a ceremony with these conditions, but again, it is the biggest audience that France will ever have, the most beautiful showcase. Our responsibility is to create dreams, to show how incredible this country is.”

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Paris’ plans are gigantic in other ways, too:

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— The athletes will be paraded from east to west along the river aboard 91 boats, with 25 other craft in reserve for breakdowns or other needs. There will also be around 30 boats for security; the river could get crowded. There will be test drives starting in July. The entire event, including the water-borne parade to the foot of the Eiffel Tower, an artistic and musical show, and the official ceremony with the lighting of the Olympic flame and the participation of heads of state is expected to last about 3 1/2 hours.

— With a planned deployment of 35,000 police — swallowing a sizable chunk of France’s total of 250,000 — the Paris ceremony will dwarf “Operation Golden Orb,” Britain’s massive police effort for the coronation of King Charles III. It mobilized almost 13,000 police officers. London’s police chief said it was the biggest security operation his 194-year-old Metropolitan Police force had ever led.

— A total of 30,000 officers will be mobilized on average per day during July 26-Aug. 11 Olympics, which rises to as many as 45,000 on the busiest days in the Paris region, Darmanin told senators in October. Police holidays will be canceled in June, July and early August with “very rare exceptions” and other events that would have needed policing will be postponed, he said. The minister warned of “huge public order problems if it clearly goes wrong.”

A pressing concern in the wake of multiple attacks by the Islamic State group that killed 147 people in and around Paris in 2015 is that the show could be a target for terrorism. Bomb-carrying drones are also a concern. “It’s a whole new threat,” Darmanin said.

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There are also concerns about managing the massive crowds and whether organizers will be able to recruit private security guards in sufficient numbers.

“It’s a lot of ambition and it’s true that many experts have expressed opposition,” Bertrand Cavallier, former commander of France’s national gendarmerie police training center, said in a telephone interview. “The physical configuration is very complex.”

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Among other challenges, he cited the risk of spectators falling into the river or falling from the upper banks of the Seine onto the paying crowds below. However, the security protocol signed on Tuesday stated that there will be a gap between the spectators and the upper parapets, wide enough for security and emergency services to pass.

There is also the possibility of protests after sustained and sometimes violent demonstrations this year against pension reforms pushed by President Emmanuel Macron.

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“There is a desire to present a very beautiful image of France. It is true that the Seine, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and the rest are very suggestive. So behind this is a big advertising campaign to showcase France. And there is also a political dimension . I think President Macron wants to mark his presidency,” Cavallier said. “But the risk is there.

“The idea is very seductive,” he added. “Realizing that it’s going to take a lot of work.”

Civil liberties campaigners have also sounded the alarm that Olympic security measures risk eroding liberties. Critics have raised privacy concerns about video surveillance technology that will be used on an experimental basis, combining cameras with artificial intelligence software to flag potential security risks such as abandoned packages or crowds. Authorities are adding hundreds of surveillance cameras in regions that will host Olympic events. Critics argue that intrusive, permanent security is often a toxic legacy of the Olympics.

The police force has already been expanded. Darmanin has spoken of a campaign “of harassment, of cleaning up” of crime in areas hosting Olympic venues.

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