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PARIS (AFP) — Some 23,000 police will be deployed for the Tour de France, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Tuesday, as the world’s premier cycling race takes place under the post-attacks state of emergency.
For the first time, members of the elite GIGN paramilitary police will be stationed along the route, “ready to intervene at any moment if needed,” Cazeneuve said after meeting with race organizer ASO near Paris.
The race takes place from July 2-24, and this year it covers a route of 3,519 kilometers (2,247 miles).
“Everyone understands that this year the Tour de France is taking place in a particular context,” said Cazeneuve, stressing that the “terrorist threat” remains “very high.”
France introduced a state of emergency following the November jihadist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, giving police greater powers of arrest and detention.
Last week, parliament confirmed a two-month extension of the state of emergency to cover next month’s Euro 2016 football tournament as well as the Tour de France.
The race, which has been running nearly continuously since 1903, draws up to 12 million spectators along the route.
“It doesn’t just belong to the French. It is … distributed in 190 countries, covered by 2,000 journalists and watched by 3.5 billion TV viewers,” Cazeneuve said.