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France To Boost Olympics Security With Foreign Military, Police Support

  • 3 min read

France has asked about 45 foreign countries to contribute several thousand extra military, police and civilian personnel to help safeguard the Paris Olympics this summer, government sources said on Friday, amid a complex geopolitical and security outlook.

The country plans to deploy about 45,000 French police and security forces, 20,000 private security personnel and around 15,000 military each day to protect an event that will see millions of sports fans and tourists stay in the country for several weeks at the height of summer.

Wars in Ukraine and the Middle East as well as a threat of terrorist attacks have forced the French government to raise its security alert to its highest level in recent days.

“The security context, particularly in recent weeks, means that there is extreme vigilance regarding the security of these Olympic Games,” said a French military official.

It is not uncommon for international sporting events to see foreign police invited to help manage the large numbers of foreign visitors, but it is rarer to ask for military assistance. At the last soccer World Cup in Qatar, France did provide military support to the local authorities in the form of sniffer dogs and anti-drone personnel.

According to a French government and an interior ministry source, a request was made in January to about 45 countries to help reinforce capacity with more than 2,000 people, both military and non-military.

The request was made for help with both military and police missions ranging from motorised and equestrian brigades, document fraud experts, mine clearance specialists, anti-drone specialists and dog sniffing teams.

Poland said on Thursday it was joining the international efforts by sending troops, including sniffer dog handlers. Germany said in March it would also contribute.

Other European allies, including Britain and Italy, will also participate by providing dozens of police to help patrol the streets, diplomats said.

The French government source said 35 countries had so far responded positively.

“This is a classic approach of host countries for the organisation of major international events: this was the case during the (2023) Rugby World Cup,” an interior ministry official said, adding that 160 members of European security forces had been involved in the tournament last September.

In addition to the broader requests, Israel and the U.S. will also send their own security capacities, sources said.

The war in Gaza and ensuing backlash in some countries has meant that concerns about the safety of the Israeli delegation are particularly high and that more security than previously planned will be required for Israeli athletes, sources said, declining to give details given the sensitivity of the matter.

Several Israeli delegations have already been to France to iron out potential difficulties, the sources said.