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QR codes, shut metros: Police outline Paris Olympics security

Some politicians are unhappy with tight security at the Paris Olympics
Some politicians are unhappy with tight security at the Paris Olympics - Copyright AFP Dimitar DILKOFF
Some politicians are unhappy with tight security at the Paris Olympics - Copyright AFP Dimitar DILKOFF

The Paris police chief has outlined drastic security measures for next year’s summer Olympics, sparking an outcry from politicians Wednesday who said they were an attack on civic freedoms.

Laurent Nunez told Le Parisien newspaper in an interview for Wednesday’s issue that residents living near Olympic venues would need to apply for a QR code allowing them to pass police barriers.

People living in the restricted areas would also have to register any visitors who might want to watch the action from their balcony, window or rooftops, or even houseboat.

“People entering a perimeter must be able to provide a valid reason for being there,” Nunez said.

He said motorised traffic would be severely restricted for the duration of the Games.

Special rules will apply during the opening ceremony on July 26, when high-security, or “red”, perimeters will be “very large”, Nunez said.

“The only people getting through will be people with a valid reason, in other words people going to their hotel, or their home, or people with a ticket for the ceremony,” he said.

Some metro stops, in areas of high vulnerability to a possible attack, will be closed, Nunez said. 

“You can’t have open metro stations inside a protection perimeter unless you then also body-search everybody,” Nunez said.

Other stops may be closed if they are too small to handle big passenger numbers, he said.

– ‘Attack on liberties’ –

The announcements, which Nunez said were still being finalised with the government and Paris city hall, prompted hostile reactions across the political spectrum.

“These measures are the hallmark of a state of emergency,” said centrist deputy Philippe Bonnecarrere.

He said it was “curious” that they would be applied “in a situation that is supposed to be happy”.

Senator Nathalie Goulet, also a centrist, said the measures were “an attack on liberties”. 

The QR code required “collecting and storing data”, she said, demanding “an explanation” from the government on data protection.

“This is outrageous, even worse than what we feared,” far-left deputy Eric Coquerel said.

“The Olympic Games will have a liberticidal taste,” said Damien Maudet, another leftist MP.

Police and others have expressed security concerns especially about the opening ceremony which will take place on boats on the River Seine, the first time the Games are being kicked off outside a sports stadium.

Initial reports said some 500,000 tickets for the opening event would be sold, but this number is likely to be revised down.

Nunez said a final decision would be made in the spring.

Some 15 million visitors are expected for the Olympics in July and August, and the Paralympics in August and early September.

There were also raised eyebrows earlier this week when local authorities announced metro tickets will almost double in price during the Olympics help cover the cost of running urban transport.

Single tickets will be sold for four euros ($4.37), compared to 2.10 euros now, and 10-ticket blocks for 32 euros, compared to 16.90 euros currently. However monthly and annual passes for residents would not be affected.

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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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