IOC chief comments on French police amid Paris Olympics concerns
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) believes that French security authorities have learned their lesson from this year's failed handling of the UEFA Champions League final and can be trusted to do a good job at the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Riot police tear-gassed football fans including women and children as May's Champions League showpiece contested by Real Madrid and Liverpool in Paris had to be delayed by more than half an hour, with supporters also subjected to armed muggings near the Stade de France at full-time.
UEFA later apologized for the debacle, while France's Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin was heavily criticized for initially trying to place the blame on Liverpool's traveling contingent for the trouble.
The authorities later acknowledged that hundreds of local "delinquents" were to blame for the ugly scenes, with a Paris police chief dubbing the security operation a "failure" due to both France's image and fans being harmed.
According to IOC president Thomas Bach, however, lessons were learned from the controversy and have led his organizing body to deduce that it has every faith in French security chiefs and officers to keep the Paris 2024 games safe.
"After a number of consultation visits, follow-ups... and other bilateral conversations I can say we have full confidence in the French security authorities," Bach explained during an online news conference on Friday.
"They have drawn the right conclusions from the incidents on the occasion of the Champions League final and they enjoy our full confidence," Bach added.
The Paris Games will kick off on July 26, 2024, with the opening ceremony scheduled to take place along the banks of the River Seine.
With 600,000 spectators expected to attend that event alone, a major security operation will have to be in place.
After terrorist attacks on November 13, 2015, which saw 130 people killed, Paris remains on high alert amid budgeting fears.
It has been estimated that 7,000 officers will be needed for the Opening Ceremony, which will prove difficult as private security firms are simultaneously struggling to hire 24,000 staff members they believe are needed for the Games.
"We do not have the numbers," admitted Paris organizing committee member Bernard Thibault to the French news agency the AFP in spring.
"It is plain and simple," a highly placed police source also explained to the same outlet.
"The 24,000 agents required for the Games do not exist, and never will. The army will be called on to do the job," he predicted.