PARIS (AP) — Stay, enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime show.
That was the message from Paris Olympic organizers on Wednesday as they sought to reassure residents of the French capital that security measures and traffic restrictions will not make life a nightmare during the July 26-Aug. 11 event and the Paralympic Games that follow.
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But critics, including some in the Senate, were unhappy with plans to require motorists to apply online for a QR code to access Paris’ restricted traffic zones during the Games. Senators complained that lawmakers had not been consulted. Nathalie Goulet, a senator from Normandy, likened the proposal to identity documents imposed by France’s Nazi occupiers in World War II.
The Senate announced that Paris police chief Laurent Nunez will appear before senators on Thursday and be asked to explain the security measures surrounding the event.
Nuñez, speaking to reporters, defended the planned QR code as legal and justified. He insisted traffic restrictions would be kept to the minimum necessary and suggested he expected criticism.
“Someone can always be the little ugly duckling sulking in the corner. We know we’re going to have a lot of those,” the police chief said.
The traffic restrictions and other security measures outlined Wednesday by Nuñez in a newspaper interview and press conference that followed will focus on Olympic routes and venues, some of them installed in the heart of Paris, and will not be generalized across the capital. .
Pedestrians and cyclists won’t need the QR code to get around, but motor vehicles and motorcycles will need it to pass some police checkpoints. Some metro stations will be closed. But Nuñez said the overall goal is to create as little economic impact as possible and keep shops, restaurants and museums accessible.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said security should not force Parisians to leave and described the city’s first Olympics in a century as a gift to its residents.
“Should people leave Paris? Well no,” he said.
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“At a time when the whole world is somewhat depressed, with wars and conflicts, we will be the place to host the first big fraternal event, thanks to sports, after the COVID (pandemic),” he said.
“We are giving a collective gift to ourselves.”