Securing the flame: France mobilizes 6,000 police officers for Olympic torch arrival

Securing the flame: France mobilizes 6,000 police officers for Olympic torch arrival

FRANCE-In order to prevent potential industrial action, officials stated on Friday that incentives would be given to security personnel, including the deployment of some 6,000 police for the arrival of the Olympic flame in France next month. When the torch comes from Greece on May 8, there will be more police in Marseille’s southern port than there was during Pope Francis’s September visit to the city last year. When the Belem, a 19th-century sailing yacht, arrives at the harbor, an elite tactical unit, bomb disposal teams, naval police, and an anti-drone squad will be ready, according to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin. The organizers anticipate 150,000 spectators.

The significance of the Olympic torch arrival

In addition to the local police and firefighters, there will be additional personnel. The Belem will set sail on Saturday after the torch was given to the French Olympic organizers in Athens on Friday. On July 26, the Paris Olympics will begin. More than a thousand boats that travel with the Belem will all be inspected, according to Darmanin. 

The minister stated that while there was no “specific threat” to the torch celebration, law enforcement was ready for any eventuality, including an attack by far-right or far-left extremists as well as “radical Islamism.” Security warning for the Olympics has been raised for France. Anti-terrorism prosecutors stated that a 16-year-old teenager was taken into custody on Tuesday after he purportedly posted on social media that he intended to create an explosive belt and become a martyr at the Paris Games.

Scale of the security operation

After unions threatened to obstruct the torch relay throughout the nation and claimed the government was withholding promised bonuses, authorities had also been afraid of police action. On Friday, the government declared that some police officers will begin receiving a 50-euro monthly bonus on July 1st, with the possibility of an increase to 100 euros per month by 2025. Unions said that 1,900 euros will be awarded to Paris region police officers who worked the Olympics. 

A letter delivered to unions on Wednesday confirmed this. Although the Alliance Police Nationale warned it would be “vigilant” and might yet order action over the taxation of bonuses and extra hours, unions applauded the measure.

Protection of torchbearers and spectators

On Friday in Athens, the Olympic torch will be given to the French organizers, who will then transport it to Marseille aboard a sailing vessel dating back to the 19th century. On Saturday evening, May 8, the three-mast Belem is scheduled to sail from Greece and arrive at the Old Port of the second-largest city in France. An estimated fifteen thousand spectators are anticipated for this event. Even in case the wind was too fierce, exceeding 25 knots, and the Belem was unable to dock in the harbor, the French authorities had devised a backup plan. “But as it’s always great weather in Marseille, I don’t imagine this will happen,” Darmanin stated.

Mitigating potential threats

France was deeply affected by the incident in Moscow on Friday, March 22, which was attributed to the Islamic State (IS) group. Two days after the incident, a defense council meeting was convened at the Elysée Palace to address the threat posed by terrorism in light of the summer Olympic Games and the increasing number of threats directed at educational institutions. 

Following the meeting, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal declared, “We have decided to raise the Vigipirate France’s national security alert system threat to its highest level due to the Islamic State having claimed responsibility for the attack and the threats hanging over our country.” “The Islamist terrorist threat is real, it is strong,” and “it has never wavered,” according to Attal, who made these statements in Paris. “Our mobilization is so that we can face it,” “we are acting everywhere to asphyxiate it,” by deploying “exceptional means across the territory,” he stated.

Call to action: Boycott Pairs Olympics 2024

In addition to the 3,000 military personnel already deployed as part of Operation Sentinelle, an anti-terrorist operation launched following the attacks in the Paris region in January 2015, the prime minister announced that 4,000 additional military personnel were placed “on alert” following the activation of the national security alert system to its maximum level. Fans should boycott this Olympics because of the threat issue. 


In conclusion, President Emmanuel Macron arrived in French Guiana early on Monday morning and declared that based on “information” the intelligence services “have,” “it was an Islamic State entity that fomented this attack and carried it out.” The active group in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia, IS Khorasan Province (IS-K), was “apparently involved in the attack, [and] had carried out several attempts on our own soil in recent months,” stated Macron, without naming the specific ones. 



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