Thousands await Olympic torch in Paris


The Olympic torch is on its way to France with a choreographed ceremony and a crowd of 150,000 people.

The transfer of the torch ashore from the southern port of Marseille will mark the start of a 12,000km relay across France and its far-flung overseas territories.

The Obstructedthe ship carrying the torch from Greece in 12 days, was spotted off the coast of Marseille early Wednesday.

Organizers hope that the first public spectacle – just 79 days before the Games kick off – will excite the crowds to attend.

The Olympic Games in Paris will take place from July 26 to August 11, followed by the Paralympic Games from August 28 to September 8.

“This is something we have been waiting for for a very long time,” Tony Estanguet, chief organizer of the Olympic Games in Paris, said on Monday, referring to the 100 years since Paris last hosted the Games.

“The Games are coming home.”

France, which was also the host in 1900, considers itself at the heart of the modern Olympic movement after a French aristocrat, Pierre de Coubertin, revived the idea of ​​the Games as practiced by the Greeks until the 4th century BC.

After the Tokyo Games in 2021, shortly after Covid-19, and the corruption-tainted Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, the Olympic Games in Paris are considered an important moment for this spectacular event.

According to Benoit Payan, Marseille’s mayor, the port where the torch is handed over was used by Greek traders in 600 BC.

The idea of ​​the torch rally stems from the ancient Olympic Games when a sacred flame burned throughout the Games.

More than 1,000 other boats will the Obstructed escorted to port and organizers expect around 150,000 people to watch the torch come ashore in the Marseille marina, which will host the sailing events during the Olympics.

Fireworks and a free concert will complete the program which will be broadcast live on French TV.

Strict security will apply

In the background, around 6,000 security force members will be on duty as the country is currently on its highest terror alert.

“It is completely unprecedented for the national police to mobilize so many people in the same place on the same day,” said Cedric Esson, regional police coordinator, on Monday.

Florent Manaudou, the four-time Olympic medalist, is the first torchbearer.

Other stars to take part in the parade, which continues in Marseille on Thursday, include NBA award-winning basketball player Tony Parker and Ivorian soccer giant Didier Drogba, as well as charity and entertainment figures.

Extremely tight security will be a constant feature as the torch will travel through more than 450 French towns and cities and pass dozens of tourist attractions, including Mont Saint Michel.

Around 200 members of the security forces will be permanently positioned around the torch, including an anti-terrorist SWAT team and anti-drone operators.

Gerald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior, referred to the risk of protests, including from far-left groups or environmental activists such as Extinction Rebellion.

Organizers have promised a “spectacular” and “iconic” Olympics, with much of the sport taking place in temporary venues around the city, including at the Eiffel Tower and the Invalides.

The opening ceremony will take place in boats on the Seine River, in a radical departure from previous Games events that opened in the main stadium.