Paris worried about its image during the Olympic Games


From July to September, Paris, the city of light, will be the epicentre of the world as it hosts the eagerly awaited Olympic and Paralympic Games. With the imminent arrival of millions of spectators and tourists, the French capital is taking measures to preserve an impeccable image. However, these measures include controversial practices, such as the hiding of homeless people and squatters in abandoned spaces.

The collective Le revers de la médaille has denounced what they call a ‘social cleansing’ by the Paris city council and the French government in the Ile-de-France and Seine-Saint-Denis regions. This action takes the form of police raids resulting in the expulsion of people in vulnerable situations, many of them migrants who were living on the banks of the Seine River, precisely the site of the opening ceremony of the games, reports Le Monde.

The evicted people are being moved to ‘temporary regional reception zones’ in cities such as Strasbourg or Orleans, while the camps near the Seine are being fenced off to prevent new settlements.

The collective has made a public appeal to all parties involved in the organisation of the games, including the Organising Committee, public authorities, sponsors and partners, asking them to avoid leaving a legacy of social exclusion that these actions could generate.

Antoine De Clerck, spokesperson for Le revers de la médaille, criticises the disparity between opening borders for tourists and closing them to those fleeing conflict and precarious situations. This situation becomes even more complex when considering the tourism forecasts for Paris during the event: it is estimated that the city will receive 1.5 million foreign tourists, mainly from the UK, Germany and the US, with a total of 11.3 million if visitors from other regions of France are added. These figures pose significant challenges in terms of infrastructure and management, but also highlight the importance of comprehensively addressing the social issues surrounding an event of such magnitude.

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