Moderate security risk levels during Paris2024 Olympics: Riskline

Protests, thefts bigger concern than terror
/ New Delhi
Moderate security risk levels during Paris2024 Olympics: Riskline
Moderate security risk levels during Paris2024 Olympics: Riskline

Riskline has accorded an overal security risk level of 2 on 5 calling it moderate

Danish risk intelligence company Riskline says there is only moderate security risk level in France during the upcoming Paris2024 Olympic Games. It says that protests and petty crimes like pickpocketing and thefts pose a bigger threat to visitors than any violent crimes, notably terrorism.
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With 22 days to go before the Paris2024 Olympic Games begin in French capital Paris, Copenhagen-based risk intelligence firm Riskline says that there is a moderate security risk during the Games that will last for almost two months and are expected to attract over 15 million visitors to Paris.

In a detailed assessment of all kinds of threats that a visitor can experience during the Games, Riskline has accorded an overal security risk level of 2 on 5, calling it moderate risk, with a bulk of threat coming in the form of disruption of transport due to a series of protests planned during the Games. The other major threat is petty crime such as pickpocketing and thefts, notably at railway stations, bus terminals and airports as well as stadia and major shopping and tourist attractions in the city.

Petty crimes, big risks

The crimes in Paris are mostly petty crimes like pickpocketing, theft of valuables and bag-snatching (Representational Image)

In its assessment, Riskline says that typically, the crimes which often target foreign travellers in Paris are mostly petty crimes like pickpocketing, theft of valuables and bag-snatching. Locations most susceptible to such opportunistic crimes include highly-trafficked tourist spots like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Champs-Elysées, Saint-Michel, the Bastille and the Centre Pompidou/Châtelet/Les Halles. 

Organised gangs of pickpockets, including children, have also often targetted tourists at the Louvre. Pickpocketing and theft also frequently occur at public transportation hubs. It warns visitors to not carry large amounts of cash, keep credit cards in a concealed pocket or pouch rather than a bag, while also avoiding overt displays of wealth and be aware of the surroundings.

Riskline cautions that violent crimes do occasionally occur, adding that there have been some reports of armed robberies and assaults at major tourist attractions such as the Champs-Elysees, the Louvre and Palais Royal, Les Halles, the Latin Quarter and Gare du Nord, as well as on RER train lines linking the city centre to the suburbs late at night. 

It says that the 19th arrondissement suffers from higher rates of crime fuelled by gang activity. Other suburbs with instances of armed robberies and assaults are Saint-Denis, the site of the main stadium, Aubervilliers, Saint-Ouen, Pigalle, Barbès-Rochechouart, Stalingrad, Montmartre, Rue Saint-Denis and the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes. It asks visitors to avoid travelling alone in these areas after dark and remain vigilant.

It adds that visitors should not engage in encounters with operators including street hawkers, asking for money or personal information that cannot be confirmed as official or licenced. When exchanging currency or drawing cash at ATMs, tourists should opt for banks with indoor space and should also regularly check bank statements, and promptly seek police or consular assistance when targetted by fraudsters.

It says that although the Games are said to be free of hooliganism, confrontations between fans of rival national teams cannot be ruled out, especially in relation to global political developments. While a heavy police presence may help deter and intervene promptly in violent situations, clashes could erupt in public with little to no warning, resulting in potential incidental harm to bystanders.

It says that teh French authorities plan to ban liquor at venues hosting the competitions as part of measures to prevent alcohol-fuelled crimes like hooliganism. Security perimeters around competition venues will also be established during the Games to ensure the safety of spectators, athletes and residents.

Low threat perception of terrorism

Police training for Paris Olympics

Police training for Paris Olympics

On threats of terrorism during the Games, Riskline says that while no overt threats have been made against the Paris 2024 Olympics as of this writing, the high-profile event will be attended by several million spectators and represents a prime target for Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda affiliated militant groups, as well as ‘lone wolf’ radicalised individuals inspired by them.

During the Games, nearly 20,000 military personnel will be mobilised, and the density of CCTV surveillance cameras and their monitoring will also be reinforced, including the introduction of algorithmic video surveillance in high-density areas.

In terms of protests, it says that there is a looming potential for protests across a spectrum of issues. These may encompass concerns such as pension reform, immigration law, escalating energy prices, environmental concerns, the Israel-Hamas and Russian-Ukraine conflicts and grievances voiced by unionised workers and anti-establishment Yellow Vests (gilets jaunes). Anticipated to occur both before and during the Games, these demonstrations have the potential to cause disruptions for travellers, says the company.

The primary focus of anticipated protests during Paris 2024 is likely to revolve around working conditions and the allocation of resources for hosting the event, with some unionised workers already making public their plans to strike and demonstrate. Notably, law enforcement officers have also issued a warning that they may go on strike during the event if their demands are not addressed, potentially causing disruptions in airport services and significantly compromising security throughout the event.

Minimal concerns for safety of women travellers

Travellers are advised to familiarise themselves with local emergency numbers and support resources in case of need

Travellers are advised to familiarise themselves with local emergency numbers and support resources in case of need

Riskline says that there are minimal safety concerns for female travellers in France. However, there have been a few instances of gender-based violence and harassment in crowded public spaces, such as transportation hubs, tourist attractions and event venues in Paris; foreign female travellers face no greater risk than locals.

Some instances of sexual assaults or harassment have also been reported on public transport, especially on the Metro at night. Champ de Mars, at the base of the Eiffel Tower, has been the site of some recent cases of sexual assault at night. It warns that female travellers are cautioned against walking alone at night around the Pigalle, Barbès-Rochechouart, Rue de Rivoli, Stalingrad, Montmartre and Rue Saint-Denis.

The report clarifies that while these risks exist, France has adequate laws in place to prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence and provide assistance to survivors. Visitors to Paris can mitigate these risks by staying aware of their surroundings, sticking to well-lit areas, avoiding walking alone at night, trusting their instincts and being cautious when socialising or consuming alcohol. 

Travellers are advised to familiarise themselves with local emergency numbers and support resources in case of need. Police and emergency services maintain a high degree of professionalism, and female travellers are unlikely to encounter any problems when dealing with first responders or reporting crimes to local authorities. Those intending to report any incidents can do it at the nearest police station and should do so as soon as possible after an attack.

LGBTQ+ friendly destination

LGBTQ+ friendly destination

The general social acceptance of LGBTQ+ people in France is among the highest in the world

Paris is one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly destinations in Europe. Le Marais in the 4th arrondissement is colloquially known as the city’s ‘gay’ neighbourhood due to the many queer bars, clubs and cafés.

The general social acceptance of LGBTQ+ people in France is among the highest in the world, with Paris being home to one of the world’s largest pride parades, the Marche des Fiertés, attracting around half a million people annually.

The state has legalised same-sex marriages and allowed gay couples the right to a joint adoption. Despite the state legally allowing transgender people to change their gender identity without sex reassignment surgery, non-binary gender identities are still not legally recognised. People with non-binary gender markers (e.g. intersex, X and gender non-conforming) selected in their identification or travel documents may face some difficulties when accessing certain services.

For the most part, the risk of anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination is low across the country. However, travellers should still exercise some caution when engaging in public displays of affection, especially when not in LGBTQ+ friendly areas. Individuals who have experienced anti-LGBTQ+ violence may consult SOS Homophobie or other similar non-profit organisations in France that provide legal help.

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