With several months to go until the beginning of the Paris 2024 Summer Games, organisations based in France and those planning to attend the Games will be well underway with their planning for the event. Events will be mainly taking place in Paris and the Île-de-France region, with some competition venues at stadiums throughout the rest of the country. International SOS has a wealth of experience in providing medical and security analysis and assistance to clients during major international events, including previous Games in Beijing (2022), Tokyo (2020), Pyeongchang (2018), and the Men’s World Sport Tournament in Qatar (2022), Russia (2018), Brazil (2014), and South Africa (2010). We outline below some of the best practices we have seen organisations implement during such events – and make recommendations on how organisations should approach the Paris Games – given the Games present risks and operational challenges that require comprehensive forethought.
The 2024 Paris Games are one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world. However, due to their scale and visibility, they can be targeted by acts of terrorism or other security threats. International SOS ranks France as a LOW security risk country, and the French authorities are in the process of implementing a robust and effective security system to ensure the protection of athletes, spectators, and the general population. Nonetheless, the environment in France is more dynamic when compared to other recent hosts of major sporting events, and various threats need to be considered.
One such threat is that of a terror attack, ever-present in the back of many people’s minds, and something that France has experienced several times in recent years. The Games signify a high-value target for radicalised individuals and groups alike, many of whom will seek to capitalise on the widespread media coverage of events. Although authorities will tighten and bolster security across the Games, residual risk remains.
Beyond this is the threat of social unrest, a perpetual threat to the French security environment. 2023 has already witnessed six months of large-scale protests related to pension reform, while violent riots spread across the country following the fatal police shooting of a teenager end of June. Activists, including those from environmental organisations, are likely to leverage the increased publicity to raise awareness for their varied causes. Reports have already indicated that some will endeavour to infiltrate the Games through the volunteer scheme.
Organisations should also plan for and anticipate dealing with cultural sensitivities, language barriers, accidents, illnesses, risk of petty crime, cyber security concerns and other threats, which may be heightened during the Games.
Companies should conduct a thorough profile-specific risk assessment tailored to their organisation’s profile. It will be vital to take into account all pertinent security risks, including terrorism, social unrest and crime. Security advisories, areas to avoid, and alternative routes will all be integral in ensuring the safety of your workforce.
Prior to the Games, employees should also receive awareness training that informs and educates them about potential risks and security measures that can be taken during the events. Awareness sessions can cover appropriate behavior, security protocols, evacuation procedures, emergency contact numbers, and the security of data while travelling, among other topics.
In France – as opposed to sporting events such as the Qatar World Sport Tournament where the security environment was more tightly controlled – the likelihood of spontaneous outbreaks of unrest, rallies or hooliganism is greater. Throughout the Games, therefore, your organisation will need continuous monitoring and alert services based on predetermined criteria relevant to your travellers, their locations and the events they will attend. Amid a diverse and varied media landscape that is increasingly susceptible to disinformation, access to reliable and timely information will thus be even more integral.
The Qatar World Sport Tournament 2022 demonstrated that for countries with a LOW-risk rating and very limited ‘traditional’ security threats, the primary concern for organisations is business continuity and logistical issues. Logistical considerations must be thoroughly assessed in the lead up to an event, briefing staff on navigating the city and having flexible work schedules is recommended for all major events. Another important consideration is the availability of 24/7 health, travel and security assistance through a hotline or locally deployed medical and security professionals.
Organisations with employees or guests attending the Games will need to ensure that all logistics are organised well in advance as secure accommodation and transportation will be booked up ahead of time. There will be a surge in demand for hotel rooms, private lodging, rental cars and public transport. Security managers should conduct comprehensive reviews of the facilities their employees will stay at. The location and surrounding environment should be assessed, along with measures such as access control, surveillance systems and alarms, and the standard of emergency and incident management planning.
Organisations with workforce and operations in France should ensure that they have robust business continuity plans in place, taking into account the challenges for local mobility. Logistical considerations must be thoroughly assessed in the lead up to an event, and staff should be briefed on navigating the city and flexible work schedules.
Responding to an Incident
Given the risks outlined above, organisations with assets or travellers attending the Games should develop detailed emergency plans. Such plans should include comprehensive procedures to follow in the event of a threatening situation or crisis event, such as a terror attack, as well as identify the appropriate medical, security and logistical resources that can aid in such a moment. Running simulation exercises in advance of the Games is another excellent way to ensure effective communication of these plans to your workforce.
Security managers should also consider activating (or placing on standby) a security coordinator to support their organisation throughout the duration of the Games. This should be done following an assessment of the risk profile/exposure of certain events and participants, some of which may drive increased targeting, for example by environmental activists. The coordinator will be able to provide real-time advice on fast-moving security situations and – in the event of an incident, facilitate interaction with the relevant authorities. This could include the police, emergency services, security services and the Games organisers.
How We Can Support
For 38 years International SOS has been at the forefront of supporting the health, safety, and wellbeing of our clients' workforce across the globe.
We have been providing 24/7 medical, security and travel assistance and on-the-ground support to our clients during similar scale sports events in Qatar, Tokyo, South Korea, Brazil, Poland, the UK, and others.
International SOS has an Assistance Centre and security team in Paris and maintains an accredited network of logistics, security and medical providers supporting over 9,000 clients’ workforce from multiple industries and corporate sectors.