France scales back proposed crowd size for opening ceremonies of Paris Summer Olympics

PARIS — The number of people allowed to watch the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics along the Seine River in Paris will be capped at 325,000, the French government announced Tuesday, apparently confirming that original plans to offer tickets to hundreds of thousands of spectators had been scaled back.

The Interior Ministry said that roughly 100,000 paying spectators will be offered prime viewing spots on the lower part of the riverbanks and that 222,000 more people will be able to see the boat parade from a higher vantage point free of charge.

But that latter group of spectators will be chosen by the government, public authorities or the Olympic organizing committee, according to the ministry. No one without an invitation will be allowed in.

The International Olympic Committee did not immediately reply to an email requesting comment.

Two years ago, organizers had proposed making the July 26 opening festivities accessible to as many as 600,000 people, a grand gathering that would span 6 kilometers (roughly 3.7 miles), stretching from the east of Paris to the Trocadéro.

The Paris police prefecture last month slashed that proposed crowd size in half, to 300,000.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin was quoted as saying government officials were mindful of potential security risks.

“To manage crowd movement, we can’t tell everyone to come,” Darmanin said, according to The Associated Press. “For security reasons that everyone understands, notably the terrorist threat of recent weeks, we are obliged to make it free but contained.”

In recent years, French law enforcement officials have grappled with terrorism and politically motivated violence.

In 2015, Islamic State terrorists attacked the Bataclan theater, Paris cafes and France’s national stadium, killing 130 people. More recently, a man killed a German Filipino tourist with a knife and injured two other people with a hammer in an attack near the Eiffel Tower in December, which authorities said may have been driven in part by the attacker’s anger at the war in Gaza.

In a presentation to the French Senate, Darmanin said the nautical parade that marks the beginning of the games would include about 90 boats carrying 206 delegations, with 10,500 athletes participating.

Nancy Ing reported from Paris and Daniel Arkin from New York.