Macron says Plan B, Plan C possible for Paris Olympics opening ceremony

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 The organizers have prepared alternatives to staging the highly-anticipated Paris Olympic Games opening ceremony on the River Seine if there are excessive security risks, French president Emmanuel Macron admitted on Monday.

As the countdown to the Olympics reaches the critical 100-day mark, Macron spoke to French broadcasters RMC and BFMTV inside the Grand Palais. While he reiterated his confidence in successfully hosting the ceremony on the Seine, he also acknowledged that alternative plans were under consideration due to potential security challenges.

“If we think there are security risks we’ll have Plan Bs, and even Plan Cs,” he said. “We are preparing them in parallel. We will do an analysis in real time. We have a ceremony which would be limited to the Trocadero and which would therefore not cover the entire Seine.”

Macron also mentioned the possibility of relocating the ceremony to the Stade de France.

“This is what is traditionally done,” he added.

Hosting the opening ceremony in the open urban space was a highly imaginative move by the Paris organizing committee and the local government.

According to the current plan, about 10,500 athletes are expected to travel approximately six kilometers from east to west along the Seine, disembarking near the Eiffel Tower at Trocadero Square for the celebration. An estimated 300,000 spectators are anticipated to watch the event live from both sides of the river.

However, security has been a significant concern from the outset of planning. The increasing risk of potential terrorist attacks is a critical consideration for both the organizing committee and the French government.

The Olympic flame for the Paris Games will be lit on April 16 in ancient Olympia, Greece. April 17 will mark the 100-day countdown to the opening of the Paris Olympics.

The Paris Olympics will take place between July 26 and August 11, followed by the Paris Paralympics from August 28 to September 8.

Meanwhile, The dress rehearsal of the lighting ceremony of the Olympic flame, which will burn for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, was held on Monday at Ancient Olympia in western Greece, the birthplace of the Games.

During a traditional ceremony, Greek actress Mary Mina, playing the role of an ancient High Priestess, used the sun’s rays to light the torch out of a concave mirror in front of the ruins of the 2,500-year-old temple dedicated to Hera, a goddess in ancient Greek mythology.

Accompanied by dozens of female and male dancers playing the roles of priestesses, goddesses and male youths, she prayed to the Gods to bring peace to the world and help the French city host a successful Games.

“Apollo, God of Sun and the idea of the Light, send your rays and light the sacred torch for the hospitable city of Paris, and you Zeus, give peace to all peoples on earth and wreath the winners of the Sacred Race,” she said.

Following a dance performance inspired by ancient Greek mythology inside the ancient stadium which hosted the first Olympics in antiquity, the High Priestess handed over to the first torchbearer the torch with the flame and an olive branch.

Greek athlete Stefanos Ntouskos, gold medalist in rowing in the 2020 Tokyo Games, who was chosen as the first torchbearer, started the rehearsal relay on Monday, after a dancer released a pigeon to spread the Olympic ideals of friendship and peace to the world.

The official lighting ceremony will be held on Tuesday, April 16, launching a torch relay across Greece before the Greek organizers pass the flame to the French delegation in a handover ceremony at the Panathinaic Stadium in Athens on April 26.

“I wish best success to all athletes,” Mina told Xinhua.

“We wish for Olympic Truce and the prevalence of peace across the world,” Artemis Ignatiou, the choreographer of the lighting and handover ceremonies, said.

The 50-member strong team Ignatiou leads which includes actors, dancers, musicians and support staff have worked for several months preparing for the ceremonies in Greece.

She will be in Paris for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games. The Paris Olympics will be held from July 26 to August 11.

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