Going for Gold

“Can the Olympics be secured?”

France’s “bleus” are jittery favorites for the policing competition at the 2024 Summer Olympics. Les règles du jeu? Pacify the world’s largest sporting event, which is expected to draw some sixteen million spectators to venues across capital and country. This includes the sprawling athletes’ village in the north Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, the center of one of the poorest departments in metropolitan France and symbol, in the spatial imaginary of the security apparatus, of the country’s ungovernable lower orders. The “9-3,” as the Seine-Saint-Denis department is known, saw widespread rioting after the police killing of Nahel Merzouk in late June. Coming one year after another police fumble—the volleys of tear gas launched at fans gathered outside the Stade de France during the May 2022 Champions League final—pundits again asked, “Can the Olympics be secured?”

The hardline interior minister Gérald Darmanin is said to be taking no chances this time. A starting squad of 45,000 has been called up for the opening ceremonies—an aquatic parade along the Seine, rumored to b…

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