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Paris Olympics 2024 - Can Olympics Remain Untouched by Politics?

France is all set to host the 2024 Olympics in its capital city, Paris, from July 26th to August 11th. It is expected to host 10,500 athletes, and it is estimated that around 15 million visitors will be visiting the city, which includes 2 million from abroad. An Olympic village is to be constructed on the outskirts of Saint-Denis, which is the largest building constructed for this event. According to France’s national audit office, it is estimated that a sum of EUR 3 billion of public money could be spent on this occasion.

An Illustration on Paris Olympics 2024

Illustration by The Geostrata


This global event will bring together 203 invited nations. Soon after the Olympics, Paris will also be hosting the Paralympic Games from August 28th to September 8th. In total, this event will attract 15 million visitors between the Olympics and Paralympic games. 


The opening ceremony will witness approximately 500,000 spectators, and it is estimated that around 100,000 will pay to sit along the banks of the Seine River to watch the opening ceremony, where athletes will be sailing down the Seine River in boats. With such large gatherings, security becomes the main concern for the authorities. 


The safety and security of this event will be of the utmost concern given the recent terrorist attack in Moscow’s concert hall on March 22. A huge challenge for the organisers and the authorities will be to protect the French capital on July 26th for the opening ceremony, as it will be an open-air performance with the slogan “games wide open” for the opening ceremony.


It will be the first time in the Olympic history of France that the opening ceremony will not take place inside a stadium but rather involve a flotilla of 94 boats carrying athletes down a stretch of the Seine River, which will be further followed by another 80 boats carrying security personnel and media personnel.

France has upscaled its terror threat level to the highest, as the country has been a frequent target of jihadist attacks in the recent past. According to Gabriel Attal, the Prime Minister of France, two planned attacks have been foiled since the beginning of this year, and a total of 45 terror plots have been prevented since 2017.


French intelligence units are screening up to a million people before the games, which include staff, athletes, volunteers, and people living close to important infrastructure.

It is estimated that there will be 30,000 police officers and gendarmes in mobilization,  including 3,000 who will be solely looking after ariel surveillance. Apart from this, according to French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, security measures will be beefed up with an extra 4000 soldiers deployed all over the country in the coming days. 22,000 private contractors, along with high-tech security surveillance, will help to ensure maximum security. To further bolster security at the Paris Olympics, many countries, including Poland, will be sending troops. 

 

Amid internal unrest in France and in parts of Europe due to farmers' protests, the importance of leveling up security measures was raised to the maximum. It is an additional security concern for Paris officials, as farmers and workers have staged protests at the Eiffel Tower. With just 4 months left for this mega event, authorities are on high alert.


France was placed on the highest terror alert last year, in October, after suspecting an Islamist who broke into a school and stabbed a teacher to death. Political unrest and tensions with rival nations such as Moldova, Serbia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan can make their way into sports.


There have been two Olympic terror incidents in the past, one in 1966, where a person was involved in planting a pipe bomb at the Centennial Olympic Park, where the Olympic activities were held, that killed one person and injured more than 100.

Another incident took place in 1972 when a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) kidnapped and held Israeli athletes hostage at the 1972 Munich Olympics, which finally led to the deaths of nine Israeli athletes and a German police officer. 


The role of two major regional conflicts that are quite close to France cannot be ruled out while considering security measures for the Paris Olympics. Security is the biggest challenge for the organisers and authorities of the Paris Games, as this city has previously been hit by attacks by Islamic extremists. Paris Games 2024 will also be the first post-COVID-19 lockdown Olympics that will witness such huge crowds. The previous two Olympics, Tokyo and Beijing, were highly restricted to the public.


Following the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the Russian and Belarussian para-athletes were banned from participating in the 2022 Beijing Winter Paralympics. This was done by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). 


This went against the very purpose of conducting games and sports. Sports are not meant to be mixed with politics. However, the conflict between the two nations entered sports. A statement from the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) presses on the apolitical nature of sport for the disabled. It considered the IPC’s decision illegal and said it has “the right to defend the rights and interests of Russian para-athletes in sports and other judicial instances." 


For the Paris Games 2024, however, they are said to be allowed, but with a few conditions. The conditions include competing in the games without the flags, emblems, or anthems of their respective countries. They will be competing as neutrals.

As per the International Olympic Committee (IOC), games are meant to be apolitical, but the Olympics have very often been used as a tool to make statements through strikes and boycotts. One example of using the Olympics as a platform to whitewash its human rights abuse is the last Winter Paralympics held in Beijing.


China tried to put a veil on its human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province by selecting a cross-country skier of Uyghur origin to light the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony. 


The first modern protest dates back to 1906 in Athens. The boycotting of games took place for the first time during the Melbourne Olympics, which China boycotted, as the IOC decided to include Taiwan. Protests around the Olympics are as old as the Olympics themselves. Using the Olympics as a platform to protest by both the athletes and various countries is not new.


To prevent any form of protest, there is an Olympic policy, Rule 50, which bans any form of protest. The aim of this is to suppress protests and maintain neutrality and an apolitical environment in the games. Protests also reveal a crack in the very purpose of the Olympics, which is to show how sports can bring the world together.


 

BY VAYSHNAVI DESAI

TEAM GEOSTRATA


4 comentarios


sports have been a popular arena for show of politics

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Great work 👏

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Well articulated

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Insightful piece

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