what to remember from Emmanuel Macron’s interview almost 100 days before the start of the Games

The President of the Republic sought to arouse the enthusiasm of the French, 102 days before the start of the Olympic Games. He notably responded to concerns regarding the risks of attacks, the costs for public finances and even the threats of strikes.

Emmanuel Macron tries to reassure the French 102 days before the start of the Olympic Games. Under the immense glass roof of the Grand Palais in Paris, site of the Olympic and Paralympic fencing and taekwondo events, the President of the Republic answered questions from BFMTV on Monday April 15.

The opportunity for the Head of State to take stock of the various challenges posed by the organization of the Olympic Games in Paris.

Diplomacy: “We will do everything to have an Olympic truce”

At a time when conflagration threatens in the Middle East after Iran sent drones and missiles to Israeli soil during the night from Saturday to Sunday, Emmanuel Macron assured “wanting to do everything to have an Olympic truce” during the Paris Olympics which must be “such a diplomatic, peaceful moment”. “The strength of Olympism, (…) is also what motivated us to organize the Games in France. It is respect and tolerance”estimated the head of state. “We want to work towards the Olympic truce and I think that this is an opportunity on which I will try to involve many of our partners”like China, whose president “comes to Paris in a few weeks”added the President of the Republic.

Also questioned about the difference in treatment made by the IOC between Russia and Israel, Emmanuel Macron declared: “Russia has decided on a war of aggression, which has lasted for more than two years (…) The distinction is very clear, we cannot say that Israel is an attacker.” Some Russian and Belarusian athletes will be able to participate in the Olympics under a neutral banner, but they will not join the parade of delegations during the opening ceremony.

Opening ceremony: in the event of a terrorist threat, it could be “limited to the Trocadéro”, or even to the Stade de France

The opening ceremony was planned on the Seine, with 94 boats dedicated to national delegations, on a route going from the Austerlitz Bridge to the Eiffel Tower. “It’s a first in the world. We can do it and we will do it”, insisted the president. He insisted on “the means of information and intelligence”particularly cyber, deployed to secure this unprecedented ceremony.

“We will do a real-time analysis [des risques].”

Emmanuel Macron


But depending on the threats at the time of the opening of the Olympics, “there are plans B and even plans C”, “and we prepare them in parallel”, recalled the president. In the event of a terrorist threat, the opening ceremony could be “limited to Trocadéro”even “repatriated to the Stade de France”declared Emmanuel Macron.

Olympic flame: “Not my role nor my place” to participate in the relay

Emmanuel Macron also considered that it was not “not necessarily [sa] place” neither “[son] role” to carry the Olympic flame, which “is not included in the program”. “I want to leave that to the people who have been selected, to our compatriots, to the athletes and to the French people who are there”he said, on the eve of the lighting in Olympia (Greece) of the flame, which will arrive in France on May 8 in Marseille.

“We’ll see if anyone invites me to wear it, but it’s not on the agenda”, he said. According to the rules of the International Olympic Committee, elected officials in office, or religious figures, cannot carry the flame. “I will be in Marseille on May 8, there to welcome the Belemhe said, the flame arriving by sea on the tall ship from Greece. “I will be an amazed spectator of these 450 stopover towns, from July 8 to 26 where the flame will travel everywhere across France”including overseas.

Strike threats: “confidence” in the unions

Emmanuel Macron said “trust” in the unions and their “spirit of responsibility”, while some like the CGT and FO have filed strike notices for the period of the Olympic Games. “France is a team, it is a united nation and therefore we are meeting this exemplary character”he said. “I say to the unions ‘We are all going to be vigilant, but we are going to show that France knows how to organize a major event, by being exemplary on labor law, on safety at work’… And therefore, yes to the truce Olympic”he further pleaded.

Eau de la Seine: “I haven’t changed my mind”

Emmanuel Macron once again assured that he would swim in the Seine, despite remaining doubts about the quality of the river’s water. “No, I haven’t changed my mind.”he confirms. “We spent more than a billion euros of public money”he recalls, to clean up the Seine and allow triathlon or open water events to take place there. However, the NGO Surfrider Foundation revealed at the beginning of April the presence of several bacteria in the river, including Escherichia coli and enterococci, at levels higher than the standards defined by the International Swimming Federation.

Accessibility of transport: “We are not completely up to par”

Asked about the dilapidated condition of the Paris metro, which will not allow people with reduced mobility to travel by public transport in Paris during the Games, the President of the Republic admitted a missed opportunity in this area. “We are not completely up to the task, we know that very well (…) But it was tens of billions of euros”, declared the head of state on BFMTV. To justify himself, he cited the age of the Paris metro.

“We will not have transformed the metro…”he recognizes, while recalling that the open lines “are accessible”. “For travel, we will have 1,000 accessible taxis that we will put in place”added the president. “It’s also a question of changing collective mentality. Making the city accessible (…) also means having everyday actions”said the Head of State, evoking for example respect for parking spaces for people with reduced mobility.

Public finances: “The Games finance the Games”

“The Games finance the Games”, once again assured Emmanuel Macron, when asked about the consequences of this global event on France’s public finances. This sentence is regularly hammered home by the executive and members of Cojo. The organization of the Olympic Games is financed by sponsors, of course, but everything related to infrastructure comes from the taxpayer’s pocket.

The cost for the State and local authorities is estimated at 2.4 billion euros but could reach 3 billion euros according to the president of the Court of Auditors, Pierre Moscovici. The total bill for the Paris Olympics is currently close to 9 billion euros. Everything has not yet been counted, invoiced, added up, and it is likely that the final bill will exceed 10 billion euros.

Aya Nakamura: “She will be one of the artists”

Will Aya Nakamura be part of the party during the Olympics? “We’ll see at the ‘final cut’ what [le metteur en scène] Mr. Jolly decides, but she will be one of the artists”, assured Emmanuel Macron. The possible participation in the opening ceremony of the most popular French-speaking singer in the world, expected to perform a song by Edith Piaf, had provoked strong reactions, particularly on the far right. “The reactions shocked me, because there were really racist reactions”added the President of the Republic. “There were reactions which were misunderstandings (…) because at the opening ceremony, we will have hundreds of artists mobilized.”

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