The groundbreaking opening ceremony planned for this summer’s Paris Olympics on the Seine River has been scaled back once again, with the previously promised 600,000 free tickets available to the general public now reduced in half to approximately 300,000 by invitation only.

Though tickets for the historic July 26 event were originally intended for the general public through open registration, the country’s Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, announced last week that 104,000 seats on the lower riverbank will be paid for, while 222,000 seats on the upper riverbank will remain free but distributed through a quota system, according to The Associated Press.

“To manage crowd movement, we can’t tell everyone to come,” Darmanin went on to say. “For security reasons that everyone understands, notably the terrorist threat of recent weeks, we are obliged to make it free but contained.” No particular plots have been found, but there are undoubtedly increased risks, he stated.

Originally, a large element of the pomp and circumstance was enabling the general public to watch for free from the riverbanks. However, as security worries and logistical challenges rose, organizers reduced the number of spectators in half, according to The Associated Press in January.
Allotted tickets will be distributed to local sports federations, cities and regions sponsoring events, and other designated groups, rather than international visitors. While those groups can technically invite foreign visitors as part of their quota, the plan is for smaller town councils to distribute them to “their employees, kids from local soccer clubs, and their parents,” according to the Interior Minister.
The regulation change may appear to be an attempt to discourage visitors from attending the Games, but Darmanin pointed out that an additional 200,000 people are anticipated to view the procession from riverbank buildings, as well as another 50,000 from authorized fan zones.

The limited distribution of tickets is just one of the challenges Olympic organizers have faced in utilizing the Seine. After great controversy, French President Emmanuel Macron promised last month that the riverfront booksellers, who had been told they would have to relocate ahead of the Games, would be allowed to remain in their locations since they are part of the “living heritage of the capital,” according to the New York Times.

This year’s opening ceremony will break convention by being held outside of a stadium, in the center of the city, with 10,500 competitors from 206 countries sailing along the river on 160 boats along a six-kilometer (3.7-mile) path.


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