Riots add to Paris Olympics security worries one year from start

Riots add to Paris Olympics security worries one year from start
French riot police officers walk next to a vehicle upside down during protests in Paris on July 2, 2023. The riots were sparked by the death of Nahel, a 17-year-old teenager who was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop in Nanterre. (REUTERS/File Photo)
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Updated 23 July 2023
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Riots add to Paris Olympics security worries one year from start

Riots add to Paris Olympics security worries one year from start

PARIS: As riots raged around France earlier this month, infrastructure for next year’s Paris Olympics risked becoming engulfed in the violence, adding a fresh worry for organizers who face a head-spinning list of security challenges one year before the Games start.
Surveillance was increased around the under-construction Olympic athletes’ village, media center and swimming complex which are in the deprived Seine-Saint-Denis area of northeast Paris, one of the hotspots of the rioting.
In the end, a building which will house a training pool suffered minor damage to its facade when an adjacent bus depot went up in flames and an attempted arson attack on the media center was thwarted by two alert security guards.
“We were very close to having a major problem,” Nicolas Ferrand, head of the Solideo organization in charge of Olympics construction work, said afterwards.
The chaotic street scenes were an unwelcome reminder of last year’s Champions League final in Paris, which was held at the national stadium in Seine-Saint-Denis that will host the athletics events at the Olympics.
Gangs of youths preyed on football fans attending the 2022 climax to the European football season, many of whom were assaulted and robbed as they made their way out of the stadium.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach this week sought to reassure people planning to travel to Paris.
“We are very confident that the Games can and will happen in a peaceful environment,” he told reporters.

The need to manage street crime around the Olympic venues is a challenge French security forces are familiar with, former national police chief Frederic Pechenard told AFP.
“Delinquency, potentially riots, or strikes are worries for organizers, but generally secondary ones,” he explained.
“If I was in charge of security, which very fortunately I’m not, it’s a terror attack that would worry me the most.”
The biggest headache is securing what promises to be the most ambitious opening ceremony in Olympic history.
Rather than the usual procession in the athletics stadium, around a hundred boats carrying sporting delegations are set to sail through the middle of the City of Light on the river Seine.
Up to half a million people will have tickets to witness the open-air extravaganza that will see the flotilla travel along a six-kilometer (3.7-mile) route overlooked by thousands of buildings.
Pechenard, who became a politician for the opposition Republicans party after serving as national police chief from 2007-2012, said security services were naturally worried.
“Everyone knows that it won’t be easy to secure,” he explained. “The biggest risk is someone acting on their own who decides to cause an incident.”
Large terror plots involving multiple people are seen as easier to detect and disrupt by intelligence services, which have prevented 39 attacks in France in the last five years, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said in December last year.
Pechenard said “100 percent safety” was impossible at any large public event and overall he remained “optimistic” because of the strong team in charge of security from the interior ministry to the organizing committee.
“There will be unprecedented security arrangements in place,” chief Paris 2024 organizer Tony Estanguet, a three-time Olympic gold medallist in canoeing, told reporters on Tuesday. “I think it will be the safest place on the planet, where you can be in total security.”




French President Emmanuel Macron (L) greets Tony Estanguet, president of Paris 2024 Olympic Games, prior to an Olympic and Paralympic Council one year ahead of the Paris games at the Elysee Palace in Paris on July 19, 2023. (POOL / AFP)

With so much space to guard around the opening ceremony, as well as the venues, security forces are banking on the help of controversial crowd-monitoring technology and private-sector manpower.
Cameras linked to AI-assisted software are set to be deployed, capable of detecting potential dangers and suspicious movements that alert police to problems developing before they are visible to officers on the ground.
Some left-wing EU lawmakers have warned that the system “creates a surveillance precedent never before seen in Europe,” while domestic critics worry it could be deployed permanently.
Attempts to recruit up to 22,000 private security agents have also run into problems, with only around a quarter of the positions filled so far and industry insiders complaining the money on offer is too low.
Interior Minister Darmanin has already raised the possibility of the armed forces being drafted in to fill any shortfalls, echoing a similar move by Britain for the 2012 London Olympics.
He is under immense pressure from President Emmanuel Macron to ensure the Games pass off without a hitch in front of an expected television audience of more than a billion people.
“The president wants everything to go smoothly for the international image of the country,” a minister told AFP this week on condition of anonymity. “If something goes wrong, it’s never forgotten.”
 


Ons Jabeur ‘avoids risk’ by missing Paris Olympics

Ons Jabeur ‘avoids risk’ by missing Paris Olympics
Updated 4 sec ago
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Ons Jabeur ‘avoids risk’ by missing Paris Olympics

Ons Jabeur ‘avoids risk’ by missing Paris Olympics
  • Earlier in the day, world number three Aryna Sabalenka said she would also miss the Olympics to protect her fitness
PARIS: Three-time Grand Slam runner up Ons Jabeur said on Monday she will sit out this summer’s Paris Olympics to avoid further injury to her knee.
Tunisian Jabeur, 29, will miss the Games, between July 27-August 4. The competition being played Roland-Garros, meaning a switch back to clay immediately after the grass season and before the hard-court run up to the US Open.
Last year Jabeur underwent surgery on her right knee.
“After consulting with my medical team regarding attending to the Olympics in Paris, we have decided that the quick change of surface and the body’s adaptation required would put my knee at risk and jeopardize the rest of my season,” Jabeur said on her social media accounts.
“Unfortunately I will not be able to participate in the 2024 Olympics,” she added.
Jabeur reached the final at Wimbledon in 2022 and 2023 and at the US Open in 2022. She competed at the Olympics in London in 2012, in Rio in 2016 and in Tokyo five years later.
Wimbledon starts on July 1 with the US Open beginning on August 26.
Earlier in the day, world number three Aryna Sabalenka said she would also miss the Olympics to protect her fitness.

Boats cruise the Seine river in a rehearsal for the Paris Olympics’ opening ceremony

Boats cruise the Seine river in a rehearsal for the Paris Olympics’ opening ceremony
Updated 4 min 50 sec ago
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Boats cruise the Seine river in a rehearsal for the Paris Olympics’ opening ceremony

Boats cruise the Seine river in a rehearsal for the Paris Olympics’ opening ceremony
  • Officials are confident that the near four-hour ceremony will run like clockwork on July 26
  • On the day of the eagerly-awaited event, around 200 Olympic delegations will join the parade on more than 80 boats

PARIS: Curious onlookers gathered on bridges as dozens of boats snaked along the Seine river on Monday in a rehearsal for the Paris Olympics’ unique opening ceremony next month.

A total of 55 boats made the journey from Pont d’Austerlitz, named after a French military victory in 1805, to Pont d’Iena, a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower, the nation’s most striking and best-known landmark.

Officials are confident that the near four-hour ceremony will run like clockwork on July 26.

“Six months ago we had like 10 minutes delay on the timing and today we are very close, almost to the second to our targets,” Thierry Reboul, the executive director for ceremonies said. “So it is very satisfying. We’ve respected an extremely precise level of timing.”

On the day of the eagerly-awaited event, around 200 Olympic delegations will join the parade on more than 80 boats. They will make the journey from east to west, along a six-kilometer (3.7-mile) route which has become a major talking point — for its audacity as a unique open-air event and for its exposure to potential danger.

Security concerns led French President Emmanuel Macron to say in mid-April that the ceremony could shift to Stade de France if the threat level was too high. But Reboul said Monday that authorities are preparing for the big day as originally planned, with no alternatives being prepared at this stage.

There will be a final rehearsal, involving the full armada of boats, before the opening ceremony — one which is expected to bring 100 world leaders to the city’s embankments, where more than 300,000 people will watch.

“We will give our heart and souls to make it a great success for the French people,” France’s Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said Monday. “They deserve it.”

The rehearsal saw 10 police speedboats shadowing the convoy, as well as speedboats equipped with television cameras. There were armed police officers stationed at various points along the way. The boats crossed 16 bridges, passing by iconic landmarks such as the green-tinged Grand Palais — where fencing and Taekwondo events will be held.

On each bridge, a few dozen people watched attentively.

“Fifty-five? That’s a lot of boats,” said 49-year-old Rosa Gabriel. Taking a break between walking from the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral, she watched it from the Pont des Arts bridge — fondly known as Love Lock Bridge, with its thousands of personalized locks attached to the railings.

One tourist even mistook the scene for something else.

“Maybe they are making a movie,” said Driss El Kaoutari, a 42-year-old from Morocco who was on vacation in Paris with his daughter.

What people actually saw were empty vessels bobbing slowly by. But they will be full of life, color, sound and movement next month.

“You will have many delegation members on the boats with their uniforms and their flags,” Reboul said. “Around them there will be many other things, as you can imagine.”

The water itself has become a sensitive and thorny topic for the organizers and politicians heading into the July 26-Aug. 11 Paris Games. A whopping $1.5 billion investment has already been made to improve the Seine’s water quality, with Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo both promising to take a dip.

This time, it was Oudea-Castera’s turn to give assurances about the river — where marathon swimmers and triathletes are set to compete during the Olympics.

She bristled a little when answering.

“Regarding the quality of the Seine’s water, we are confident. You shouldn’t ask us to be ready ahead of time,” Oudea-Castera said, adding that a new center for collecting waste will be opened next week.


West Indies thrash Afghanistan in final T20 World Cup group game

West Indies thrash Afghanistan in final T20 World Cup group game
Updated 18 June 2024
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West Indies thrash Afghanistan in final T20 World Cup group game

West Indies thrash Afghanistan in final T20 World Cup group game
  • Nicholas Pooran’s blistering 98 off 53 balls highlighted a dominant batting effort by West Indies

GROS-ISLET, Saint Lucia: West Indies thrashed Afghanistan by 104 runs in the final group stage game of the T20 World Cup on Monday.
Nicholas Pooran’s blistering 98 off 53 balls (six fours, eight sixes) highlighted a dominant batting effort by West Indies as they piled up 218 for five after being put in as the two Super Eight qualifiers sparred in advance of the next phase of the tournament starting on Wednesday.
Afghanistan were bundled out for 114 off 16.2 overs in reply.


Celtics win 18th NBA championship with 106-88 Game 5 victory over Dallas Mavericks

Celtics win 18th NBA championship with 106-88 Game 5 victory over Dallas Mavericks
Updated 18 June 2024
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Celtics win 18th NBA championship with 106-88 Game 5 victory over Dallas Mavericks

Celtics win 18th NBA championship with 106-88 Game 5 victory over Dallas Mavericks
  • Boston earned their latest title on the 16th anniversary of hoisting their last Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2008
  • Jaylen Brown had 21 points and was voted the NBA Finals MVP

BOSTON: The Boston Celtics again stand alone among NBA champions.

Jayson Tatum had 31 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds as the Celtics topped the Dallas Mavericks 106-88 on Monday night to win the franchise’s 18th championship, breaking a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for the most in league history.

Boston earned their latest title on the 16th anniversary of hoisting their last Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2008. It marks the 13th championship won this century by one of the city’s Big 4 professional sports franchises.

Jaylen Brown added 21 points and was voted the NBA Finals MVP. Jrue Holiday finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Center Kristaps Porzingis also provided an emotional lift, returning from a two-game absence because of a dislocated tendon in his left ankle to chip in five points in 17 minutes.

It helped the Celtics cap a postseason that saw them go 16-3 and finish with an 80-21 overall record. That .792 winning percentage ranks second in team history behind only the Celtics’ 1985-86 championship team that finished 82-18 (.820).

Second-year coach Joe Mazzulla, at age 35, also became the youngest coach since Bill Russell in 1969 to lead a team to a championship.

Luka Doncic finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds for Dallas, who failed to extend the series after avoiding a sweep with a 38-point win in Game 4. The Mavericks had been 3-0 in Game 5s this postseason, with Doncic scoring at least 31 points in each of the them.

Kyrie Irving finished with just 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting and has now lost 13 of the last 14 meetings against the Celtics team he left in the summer of 2019 to join the Brooklyn Nets.

NBA teams are now 0-157 in postseason series after falling into a 3-0 deficit.

Boston never trailed and led by as many as 26 feeding off the energy of the Garden crowd.

Dallas were within 16-15 early before the Celtics closed the first quarter on a 12-3 run that included eight combined points by Tatum and Brown.

The Celtics did it again in the second quarter when the Mavericks trimmed what had been a 15-point deficit to nine. Boston ended the period with a 19-7 spurt that was capped by a a half-court buzzer beater by Payton Pritchard – his second such shot of the series – to give Boston a 67-46 halftime lead.

Over the last two minutes of the first and second quarters, the Celtics outscored the Mavericks 22-4.

The Celtics never looked back.

Russell’s widow, Jeannine Russell, and his daughter Karen Russell were in TD Garden to salute the newest generation of Celtics champions.

They watched current Celtics stars Tatum and Brown earn their first rings. It was the trade that sent 2008 champions Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn in 2013 that netted Boston the draft picks it eventually used to select Brown and Tatum third overall in back-to-back drafts in 2016 and 2017.

The All-Stars came into their own this season, leading a Celtics team that built around taking and making a high number of 3-pointers, and a defense that rated as the league’s best during the regular season.

The duo made it to at least the Eastern Conference finals as teammates four previous times.

Their fifth deep playoff run together proved to be the charm.

After both struggling at times offensively in the series, Tatum and Brown hit a groove in Game 5, combining for 31 points and 11 assists in the first half.

It helped bring out all the attributes that made Boston the NBA’s most formidable team this postseason – spreading teams out, sharing the ball, and causing havoc on defense.

And it put a championship bow on dizzying two-year stretch for the Celtics, that saw them lose in the finals to the Golden State Warriors in 2022 and then fail to return last season after a Game 7 home loss to the Miami Heat in the conference finals.


Lionel Messi and Argentina will try for a 3rd straight major title in Copa America

Lionel Messi and Argentina will try for a 3rd straight major title in Copa America
Updated 18 June 2024
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Lionel Messi and Argentina will try for a 3rd straight major title in Copa America

Lionel Messi and Argentina will try for a 3rd straight major title in Copa America
  • Argentina and Uruguay are tied with 15 Copa titles each, followed by Brazil with nine
  • Spain is the only nation to win three consecutive major titles: The European Championship in 2008 and 2012 around the 2010 World Cup

NEW YORK: Lionel Messi and Argentina will try to match Spain’s feat of three consecutive major titles when the Copa America kicks off Thursday night.

Coming off championships in the 2021 Copa America and the 2022 World Cup, Messi will be four days shy of his 37th birthday when the Albiceleste take the field against Canada at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

“I want to enjoy a couple of more matches being a world champion,” Messi said after Argentina beat France on penalty kicks to win the 2022 World Cup final.

He has 10 goals in 10 international appearances since, raising his total to 108 in 182 games for Argentina’s national team. He is either tied for second with Ali Daei or one behind, depending on whether a disputed goal by the Iranian is counted, trailing only Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo at 128.

“It is not easy to compete again after winning it all,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said.

Argentina and Uruguay are tied with 15 Copa titles each, followed by Brazil with nine. No other nation has won more than two.

Brazil features an attack headed by Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo, just off a Champions League title with Real Madrid, and Raphinha. The emerging star is 17-year-old Endrick, who joins Real Madrid this summer.

“If you look at every position in their proposed starting 11, it’s probably one of the world’s best players,” US coach Gregg Berhalter said.

Spain is the only nation to win three consecutive major titles: The European Championship in 2008 and 2012 around the 2010 World Cup.

A look at the tournament:

Expanded field

There will be 16 teams, just as in 2016. The US, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Panama and Jamaica join the 10 South American nations after qualifying from North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Back in the US

Ecuador was to host the tournament under the rotation of CONMEBOL, South American soccer’s governing body, but declined. The tournament was then moved to the US, which also hosted the special centennial Copa America in 2016 as Chile won on penalty kicks over Argentina at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Eleven NFL stadiums are being used, including eight of the 11 US venues for the 2026 World Cup, plus three smaller MLS homes. The final will be at Miami Gardens, Florida, on July 14, starting five hours after the European Championship final in Berlin.

CONMEBOL says more than 1 million tickets have been sold for the 32 matches. The 2016 tournament drew just under 1.5 million, and the 2019 tournament in Brazil about 850,000. The 2021 Copa was played mostly without fans because of the coronavirus pandemic.

US team

This will be the biggest test for the US team before the World Cup — the Americans get an automatic berth as co-host along with Mexico and Canada — and most Europe-based players are expected to skip next year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie are the core of a team that returns 18 players from the 2022 World Cup roster.

“A World Cup on home soil is the biggest thing that you know we’ll probably do in our career,” Pulisic said. “It’s a special time for this sport in America.”

World Cup test?

In 2016, CONMEBOL partnered with the US Soccer Federation, which was in charge of most of the logistics. This time, CONMEBOL is co-organizing the tournament with CONCACAF, the governing body of North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Unlike during the World Cup, the organizers have only short-term access to venues. At Hard Rock, a concert is scheduled for July 6, between the last group stage game and the final, and a new grass surface will be installed.

At MetLife Stadium, where a semifinal will be played July 9, staff will look at it as a preview for the World Cup final on July 19, 2026. The stadium has a camera system designed by Arecont Vision and managed by Genetec Security Center that was installed before the 2014 Super Bowl and a new system by Axis Communications is being put in place this summer in the seating bowl with 80 8K, 41-megapixel cameras.

“We can see every seat all the time. I think it serves as a good deterrent,” said Daniel DeLorenzi, vice president of security and safety services. “We have three drone detection systems. ... Not only can we track the drone, but more importantly, we can track where the operator is.”