PARIS (AFP) — Some 20,000 police, gendarmes, and firefighters have been mobilized to ensure the safety of the Tour de France this year, in the face of the ever-present threat of terrorism.
“In addition to road safety and public order, the terrorist risk is obviously not ignored. It should even encourage, in the current context, the greatest caution,” said Pierre-Henry Brandet, spokesman for the French ministry of the interior.
“The intelligence services are mobilized to detect upstream any possible hint of danger,” he added. All officials mobilized by the Place de Beauvau “are perfectly aware of the threat along the route and that posed at the start and finish of each stage.”
“Vigilance will be heightened on the course to identify suspicious behavior,” the spokesman added, in the face of a “very elevated threat of terrorism.
“Checkpoints will be especially strengthened at the departures and arrivals of the stages,” Brandet said.
However, according to internal sources, the ministry has not increased the number of officials for the Tour, a sporting event third in magnitude behind the Olympics and the soccer World Cup.
This year’s 198 Tour cyclists will be under the watchful eye of 20,000 officials, as in previous years: 40 Republican Guard motorcyclists in the caravan, 12,000 gendarmes on course, 12 others inside the caravan, and over 8,000 police officers in the urban areas they ordinarily patrol.
The Tour de France, which attracts two million spectators, according to the interior ministry, remains a “major concern of public authorities. … For sure we are bracing ourselves,” Brandet said.