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Paris 2024 Olympic Games: athletes, coaches, volunteers or local residents, all participants scrutinized

Whoever wants won't go to the Olympics.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Games: athletes, coaches, volunteers or local residents, all participants scrutinized

Whoever wants won't go to the Olympics. No less than a million people, athletes, coaches, volunteers or even local residents who will participate this summer in the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris are subject to a prior security investigation.

In complete discretion, investigator-analysts have for months been sifting through the hundreds of thousands of accreditation requests emanating from the organizing committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Cojop) or the prefectures involved in the major global event.

Their objective: to ensure that those who request authorization do not constitute a risk for the security of the event, in a context of “very high” terrorist threat in France.

“There cannot be any issuance of Cojo accreditation until there has been a safety investigation result (...), it is really for anyone except the spectator,” explains to AFP Julien Dufour, head of the National Service of Administrative Security Investigations (Sneas), responsible for this mission for the Olympics.

At the top of the list of accredited people are 10,500 athletes selected for the Olympic Games (July 26-August 11), 4,400 for the Paralympic Games (August 28-September 8), their staff (coaches, trainers, etc.) and some 26,000 journalists.

This is followed by up to 22,000 private security agents and 45,000 volunteers, although not all are subject to security screening, obligatory only for those with access to protected areas.

“We can imagine that there will be investigations into people who live in an area,” specifies the boss of Sneas.

Font files

To accomplish its task, its service, created in 2017 in the post-attack climate of detection and fight against terrorism and radicalization, legally relies on article L211-11-1 of the internal security code relating to major events.

It is also part of the law of May 19, 2023 relating to the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“Until the law, the organizer could not follow the advice given. It is a change in posture which is important and which reaffirms the sovereign prerogatives of the State to define who can or who must,” notes Julien Dufour, at the head of 150 agents.

The first stage of the administrative security investigation procedure involves screening, that is to say consultation of the various police and intelligence files (national or supranational). If no security risk appears, Sneas issues an opinion without objection which is equivalent to a green light.

If the person's name appears in one of these files, an investigator-analyst then assesses whether the facts which gave rise to this registration are likely to represent a threat in the context of his mission during the Olympic Games.

Thus, says Julien Dufour, a person known to have driven under the influence of alcohol could be authorized to “intervene to repair a device in a sensitive site”. “On the other hand, it’s a real subject if he has to become a bus driver,” he adds.

Depending on the evaluation, Sneas can issue an opinion of incompatibility – “motivated”, insists Julien Dufour – and the accreditation request must be refused.

“We are the opposite of arbitrariness. It’s not a question of each other’s beliefs, it’s a question of concrete material elements,” comments the head of the investigation service, who assures that he is not carrying out “an environmental or neighborhood investigation. ". “That’s not his role,” he said.

All-round investigations

He estimates the volume of investigations to be carried out for the Olympic Games alone at one million (including for participants in the torch route).

In 2022, Sneas carried out 500,000 surveys and 700,000 in 2023 as part of its missions, from public transport drivers to access to airport areas, including the Rouen Armada, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Rugby World Cup, which released the law of May 2023.

“We conducted just over 100,000 surveys during the Rugby World Cup. Regarding the number of incompatibility notices, please allow me not to give this information,” says Julien Dufour, who expects a total of 2 million investigations in 2024 (JO and regular missions).

Security investigations for the Olympic Games are not specific to France.

As the spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reminded AFP, “security measures for the Olympic Games are the responsibility of local authorities and are implemented according to the context of each edition.”

This was the case in Rio in 2016, a Brazilian source confirms to AFP. For the London Games in 2012, the Home Office (British equivalent of the Interior Ministry) carried out nearly 500,000 investigations which resulted in 100 refusals, according to the daily The Guardian.

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