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Factcheck: Will you really need a QR code to walk around Paris during the Olympics?

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Factcheck: Will you really need a QR code to walk around Paris during the Olympics?
Security will be tight in Paris during the Olympics. Photo: AFP

As preparations step up in the French capital for the Paris 2024 Olympics, the first details of the security plan have been revealed.

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Paris police chief Laurent Nunez has revealed the details of the massive security operation that will take place in Paris next summer during the Games - and one thing that really made headlines was the use of a QR code to access certain areas.

Bringing back uncomfortable memories of strict limits on personal freedom during the pandemic, the idea of locals needing a QR code to access their own homes has unsurprisingly provoked a strong reaction - but is that really what's happening?

With the caveat that some details of the security plan are still being finalised - and things could change in response to a specific threat - here's what we know about life in Paris during late July, August and September of 2024. 

READ ALSO Should I avoid France during the Olympics?

Where

One of the key factors of the Paris 2024 Games is that many of the events will take place within the city centre, using iconic locations like the Eiffel Tower as event venues.

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Previous games have tended to be restricted to certain areas of their host cities, but organisers in Paris want to 'take the Games out of the stadiums and into the city'.

Some events - like athletics - will be held in a stadium of course, Stade de France in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, but others will be held inside Paris.

Locations include the Champ-de-Mars (under the Eiffel Tower), Place de la Concorde, the Grand Palais and Les Invalides. Meanwhile the opening ceremony will take place on the River Seine, on a 6km route through the city centre from the Pont d'Austerlitz to the Eiffel Tower

The police police chief has therefore revealed that there will be 'security zones' around certain areas.

Some of these are outside Paris itself such as the zone around Stade de France and the athletes' village in Saint-Denis and the La Défense arena in Nanterre while others - such as Parc des Princes, the Accor and Paris Sud arenas and Roland Garros are within Paris but not in the city centre.

Within the city centre there are four security zones - Champ-de-Mars/Eiffel Tower, Trocadéro/Pont d'Iéna, Place de la Concorde and the Grand Palais to Les Invalides (including the Pont Alexandre III between them).

On the map below, the zones are divided into grey, blue and red. You can find a detailed map here, courtesy of French daily Le Parisien.

Grey zones - these are the event venues themselves, and will be open only to people who have a ticket to that event, or accredited people such as Games officials or journalists. Security will be tight and bags will be searched on arrival, as is standard at major sporting events in France.

Red zones - these are closed to all vehicles and motorbikes, with the exception of local residents, those visiting sick/ vulnerable people, emergency and rescue services - these people will register in advance for a special QR code.

It's important to note that this does not affect people walking or cycling through these areas, they can enter as normal and do not need a QR code.

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Blue zones - closed to vehicles and motorbikes with the exception of those outlined above for red zones, plus anyone who can provide a justification such as delivery drivers. Pedestrians and cyclists can move freely through the blue zones.

Licensed Paris taxis will be able to enter red and blue zones, as will VTC drivers such as Uber who have registered themselves and their vehicle in advance.

Metro stations in the red and blue zones may be closed or temporarily closed, although Metro lines will continue to run, but without stopping at certain stations.

When

The Games period runs from July 26th - August 11th for the Olympics and Aug 28th - September 8th for the Paralympics.

However, the restrictions will only be in place when there are events on.

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Restrictions on driving in red and blue zones will be in place 2.5 hours before the start of events and up to one hour afterwards (in central Paris, this could mean from 6.30am to midnight).

Opening ceremony

The exception to the rules outlined above is Friday, July 26th when the opening ceremony takes place.

The ceremony itself takes place along a 6km stretch of the river and will be subject to tight security - the upper and lower quais along the route will be reserved for ticket-holders (seated on the lower quais, standing room on the upper quais) and cannot be accessed by the general public.

Anyone who lives on the quais themselves will require a QR code to enter, as will any of their visitors - this must be registered in advance.

During the opening ceremony the red and blue zones will be extended to run along the river bank, but the exact details are yet to be revealed - however it will likely be impossible to get anyone where the river in a car or motorbike on Friday, July 26th.

The opening ceremony is scheduled to take place in the evening, but exact times for security closures are yet to be revealed, and some restrictions on motor vehicles may be in place in the days before the opening ceremony. 

Exceptions

The police chief outlined the groups who would likely be able to apply for an exemption to enter red and blue zones by car, but added that a public consultation was ongoing to ensure that no-one would be forgotten.

The exact details of who will be able to enter security zones, and how to apply in advance for the QR code, will be revealed nearer the time. 

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