AFP and Reuters
France is set to host the Euro 2016 championships from June 10 to July 10, with some 2.5 million football fans expected for the 51 matches to be held at stadiums across the country involving 24 national teams.
Numerous fan zones will be set up so everyone can enjoy the carnival atmosphere of the big games on giant screens in major cities. The flagship fan zone at the Eiffel Tower was expected to welcome as many as 100,000 people on match days.
“The police chief did express his reservations and asked to close the Eiffel Tower fan zone during matches at the Parc des Princes and Stade de France [which are both in the French capital],” Stanislas Gaudon of the National Police Alliance Union told TV channel iTele on Thursday.
Paris security forces will receive reinforcements to protect the fan zones, and the interior ministry has said some 90,000 police, soldiers and private security agents will be deployed to ensure the safety of the tournament. The UK had aproximately 13,000 police officers and 17,000 soldiers for security at the 2012 Olympics.
Aware of the pressures on the police force to secure fan zones and stadiums, a security committee has “reinforced the resources that will be available to the police chief … to ensure an optimal level of security at all these sites”, Cadot’s office said.
Security experts and police officials have said protecting those areas will be the biggest challenge due to a lack of resources.
Police officials told Reuters that French security forces are exhausted and stretched to breaking point after the numerous operations in the wake of the terrorist attacks, violent labour protests and a continuing migrant crisis.
Islamic State group militants threatened a campaign of bomb attacks on large crowds in France, the head of the DGSI internal intelligence service said on May 19.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)
Police in France conducting security training:
French forensic officers take part in a mock terror attack drill outside the Stade des Lumieres, near Lyon today. The drill saw the officers looking over a fake crime scene that included dismembered bodies
The drills, which took place at the stadium near Lyon and at the Stade de France in Paris, were part of the massive security preparations underway for the event
Three French firefighters stretcher a mock victim from the scene during the drill near one of the Euro stadiums
An actor covered in fake blood lies pretending to be injured outside the Stade des Lumieres as an officer carrying an assault rifle approaches
Two anti-terror police officers take part in the dramatic security training drill in France earlier today
The drills come as the U.S. State Department issued a warning that the event could be targeted by terrorists