NATIONAL NEWS

France asks for foreign police and military help with massive Paris Olympics security challenge

Mar 29, 2024, 5:21 AM | Updated: 6:48 am

France says it has asked 46 countries if they would be willing to supply more than 2,000 police officers to help secure the Paris Olympics this summer, as organizers finalize security planning for the French capital’s first Games in a century while on heightened alert against potential attacks.

The Interior Ministry said Friday that the request for foreign security assistance was made in January, seeking nearly 2,185 reinforcements. The officers are sought to help with Games security and “the spectator experience” and to “strengthen international cooperation,” the ministry said.

“This is a classic approach of host countries for the organization of major international events,” the ministry added.

It noted that France sent 200 of its gendarmes to soccer’s World Cup in Qatar in 2022 and also welcomed 160 officers from other European security forces for the Rugby World Cup that France hosted last year.

Separately, the French Defense Ministry has also asked foreign nations for “small numbers” of military personnel who could help with “very specific” tasks at the Games, including sniffer dog teams, said Col. Pierre Gaudillière, spokesman for the army general staff.

Poland’s defense minister said his country will be sending soldiers to the Paris Games. The Polish armed forces delegation will include dog handlers and “its main goal will be to undertake activities related to the detection of explosives and counteracting terrorist phenomena.” the minister, Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, posted on X.

Security is the biggest challenge for Paris Games organizers in a city that has been repeatedly hit by deadly attacks by Islamic extremists and which is expecting as many as 15 million visitors for the July 26-Aug. 11 Games and Paralympics that follow.

Security concerns are notably high for the opening ceremony, which will involve boats along the Seine River and huge crowds watching from the embankments.

France’s government increased its security alert posture to the highest level in the wake of the recent deadly attack at a Russian concert hall and the Islamic State’s claim of responsibility.

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announced the decision in a post on X, saying authorities were “taking into account the Islamic State’s claim of responsibility for the (Moscow) attack and the threats weighing on our country.″

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Associated Press writer Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed.

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AP Olympics coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

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