The GIGN Will Protect the Olympic Flame in a ‘Security Bubble’

The symbolic object will be protected by 100 police and gendarmes, including the elite unit, during its journey in France before the opening of the Olympic Games, announced Gérald Darmanin on Monday, January 22.

From Marseille to Paris, the law enforcement officers will protect the Olympic flame bearers from May 8. On Monday, January 22, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, revealed the security measures for the torch relay before the launch of the Olympic Games in Paris.

Darmanin stated that “about a hundred police officers and gendarmes will accompany” the flame throughout the course, including the GIGN, the elite unit of the gendarmes, which will be “constantly” “close by”. Within this “bubble,” “18 plainclothes police officers and gendarmes” will be responsible for the “close protection” of the torchbearer.

An agile force unit of about 100 agents placed at the front and rear of the convoy will also be responsible for combating “any form of public disorder,” said the minister. He mentioned potential “sit-ins” as the main risk of disturbance, originating from “ultra-left environmentalist groups” such as “Saccage 2024”, “Dernière Rénovation” and “Les Soulèvements de la Terre”. “At this stage, there are no intentions from the far right,” he warned.

The torch relay will begin in Marseille on May 8 and end in Paris on the day of the opening ceremony of the Games, on July 26.

The relay is expected to cross “100 emblematic sites,” “over 400 cities,” and 5 overseas territories. There will be “65 stage cities to conclude each day’s leg,” detailed the ministry in a press kit. The territories are expected to spend 150,000 euros (excluding taxes) to witness the passage of the flame.

A security deployment that already has a price tag: the secure routing will cost the Interior Ministry one million euros, Gérald Darmanin continued.

For the arrival of the flame in Marseille, where 150,000 people are expected, 5000 police officers and gendarmes will be mobilized.

The flame relay will also pass through Paris on Sunday, July 14 and Monday, July 15. The program includes a tour of the capital’s iconic locations such as the Panthéon, the Louvre Museum, the Champs-Elysées, and the National Assembly on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, the flame will start touring more popular neighborhoods, passing through Montmartre or the Chapelle Metro station, not far from the Adidas Arena, newly built for the Games. For this Parisian tour, 1,600 law enforcement officers will be deployed.

The names of most of the 10,000 carriers who will participate in the relay have been known since January 15. These include celebrities such as actor Jean-Pascal Zadi, filmmaker Alice Diop, or footballer Jean-Pierre Papin, as well as dedicated ordinary citizens. All these relay runners will carry the Olympic torch for about four minutes over a distance of 200 meters along a course that winds through France.

Innovation for these Olympics: there will also be “collective relays” led by sports federations. A group of 24 athletes around a torchbearer will provide entertainment.

In total, 12,000 people have been recruited by the Olympic Committee as relay runners and volunteers. All of them have undergone security screening, with thirteen negative opinions issued: ten for criminal offenses and three at the recommendation of intelligence services.

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