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Ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games, Global Guardian highlights notable safety concerns, and security recommendations for travelers visiting the host country.


Few occasions on the grand calendar for global events capture the collective imagination like the Summer Olympic Games. As the world awaits the start of the 2024 Games, all eyes are on the host city, Paris. Olympic sports offer spectators a reprieve from the ugliness of politics, providing an opportunity to celebrate unity and human achievement. But amidst the excitement and flurry of expectations, a sobering reality looms.

During the Games, French security forces will undertake the formidable task of safeguarding every event against potential threats. From terrorism to cyberattacks to geopolitical tensions, the security landscape surrounding the Olympics is as dynamic as it is complex.

Here, Global Guardian provides a comprehensive exploration of the security threats confronting the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. Drawing upon intelligence assessments, expert analyses, and historical precedents, we take an in-depth look at the multifaceted nature of these threats. We seek to provide stakeholders with a nuanced understanding of the security landscape, empowering them to navigate the complexities with expert guidance and real-world results.

Risks to France And the Olympic Games

Generally, hosting the Olympics elevates a country’s crime, unrest, and terror risks. France is already more susceptible to these risks than most European countries. The 2024 Paris Olympics present a high-value target to a range of actors who seek to profit or hijack the global spotlight for their respective causes.

paris france olympics 2024 threat breakdown graph


France is a target for Islamist attacks due to its leadership role in campaigns against the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda in Africa and its large, relatively marginalized Muslim community. The French labor sector is prone to strikes and the threat of shutting down the Olympics increases their bargaining power.


The wars in Ukraine and the Middle East have raised tensions globally, heightening the probability that one or more actors attempts to capitalize on the world’s attention in Paris as the Palestinian Liberation Organization did during the 1972 Munich Olympics. Furthermore, France’s “unlimited support” policy towards Ukraine makes it a target for Russia, and its banning of pro-Palestine protests and support for Israel make it a valuable target for Islamists.


Due to the proliferation of cheap drones, 3D printed firearms, and the internet of things, it has never been easier for malicious actors to access tools that can be
used in terror attacks. In addition, tools used for cyberattacks are outpacing cyber defenses.

Security posture

France has taken extensive measures to improve its counter-terrorism capabilities in response to the various terrorist attacks it has faced in recent years. These efforts have resulted in a significant enhancement of its intelligence agencies and security forces, which have effectively prevented major terrorist attacks directed by foreign entities since the 2015 Paris attacks by the Islamic State. The robust security presence in Paris and across the country is expected to diminish the potential for sophisticated, largescale attacks during upcoming events. To this end, 20,000 soldiers will be deployed across the country, along with 40,000 police and gendarmes.

cta olympics

Medical infrastructure

Paris boasts a robust medical infrastructure designed to support both residents and visitors. With the influx of athletes, officials, and spectators expected for the Olympics, Paris has further bolstered its healthcare services, ensuring rapid response capabilities and the availability of specialized medical personnel. Additionally, the city’s health system is well-integrated with emergency services, ensuring swift transportation and access to care in the event of any incidents. However, with the influx of visitors for the Olympic Games, there is a potential risk of longer wait times for medical services in Paris. Travelers should bring necessary prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications to avoid logistical challenges that may exist in procuring such items due to the influx of visitors. 

Entry Requirements Summary

  • U.S. citizens do not need a visa to enter France to attend the Olympics as a tourist. U.S. citizens who plan to engage in remunerative work during their stay in France may require a visa depending on the nature of the work.
  • France has an online system to facilitate visa applications for certain attendees to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Delays in visa appointments and processing times are expected due to a significant influx of visitors.
  • Visa applications require a passport valid for at least three months after departure, two passport-sized photos, travel insurance with a minimum coverage plan of USD $33,000, flight itinerary, accommodation proof, and bank statements proving sufficient financial means.
  • Entry into France is also possible with a non-binary gender passport, or where gender is indicated as “Neutral” or “X.”
  • Visitors must ensure their travel documents correspond to their authorized stay in the EU/Schengen zone.

paris olympics 2024 opening ceremony map

Event locations Across Paris and France

Opening ceremony logistics

  • When to watch: 26 July 2024 at 7:30 pm CET (local time)
  • Where to watch: No tickets are required to view the ceremony from the upper quays. Those wishing to access the lower quays, from the Austerlitz bridge to the Iéna bridge, will need to buy tickets. There will be 80 off-site televised screening areas across Paris.

Unlike traditional opening ceremonies, the Paris 2024 opening ceremony will not take place in a stadium. Instead, it will be held outside, in the heart of the City of Light itself. The ceremony will unfold along the Seine River, the main artery of the city. The parade of athletes will be a floating procession down the Seine River. Approximately 160 boats will transport the athletes and performers four miles (six kilometers) through the heart of Paris from Pont d’Austerlitz to the Pont d’Iena. The parade will culminate in front of the Trocadéro.

Venues Across the Country

While most of the Olympic events will take place within Paris, some will take place in other French cities, including Lyon and Marseille. See a map of all Olympic venues below: 

paris olympics 2024 venues across city and country map

1.   Alexandre III Bridge: Marathon swimming, triathlon and road cycling

2.   Arena 92: Swimming and water polo

3.   Arena Paris Nord: Boxing and modern pentathlon

4.   Bercy Arena: Basketball and gymnastics

5.   Champ de Mars Arena: Judo and wrestling

6.   Eiffel Tower Stadium: Beach volleyball

7.   Grand Palais: Fencing and taekwondo

8.   Hôtel de Ville: Marathon

9.   Invalides: Archery, athletics, and road cycling events

10.   Le Bourget Climbing Venue: Sport climbing

11.   Palace of Versailles: Equestrian and modern pentathlon

12.   Parc des Princes: Football

13.   Paris Aquatic Centre: Artistic swimming, diving, and water polo

14.   Paris Expo Porte de Versailles: Volleyball, table tennis, handball, and weightlifting

15.   Place de la Concorde: BMX freestyle, skateboarding, breaking, and 3-on-3 basketball

16.   Pont d’Iéna: Aquatics, athletics, cycling, and triathlon

17.    Porte de la Chapelle Arena: Badminton and rhythmic gymnastics

18.   Roland-Garros Stadium: Tennis and boxing

19.   Stade de France: Rugby sevens, track and field, and the Games’ closing ceremony

20.  Trocadero: Triathlon, road cycling, athletics, and swimming events

21.   Yves du Manoir Stadium: Field hockey


Threat vectors to the Paris Olympics


In France, the crime rate is comparable to other Western European countries, with violent crime generally low and often linked to street gangs in major cities like Marseille, Paris, and Strasbourg. The overall crime rate in Paris saw a decline in 2023, with property crimes decreasing by 13.5% and pickpocketing by 3.4%. Burglaries remained level, but thefts from homes and vehicles dropped by 3.5% and 7.3%, respectively, largely due to increased police presence. Outside Paris, criminal activity is lower but still present in high-traffic and tourist-heavy areas.

paris olympics areas to avoid at night across city map

Travelers will most likely encounter opportunistic theft in historical centers, retail environments like department stores, public transportation, and economically disadvantaged outskirts. Thieves often operate in small groups, targeting items like luxury watches, jewelry, and electronics, and frequently involve minors who face less severe legal consequences.

Incidents of pickpocketing and theft tend to spike during large-scale events like the Olympics. With 15 million visitors expected to attend the Games, opportunistic criminals will likely attempt to exploit the influx of tourists. These petty crimes are the most common security concern for tourists visiting France.



Key Takeaways

  • The main criminal threat to attendees of the Games is opportunistic petty crime, specifically pickpocketing.
  • Exercise increased caution in crowded areas and on public transportation.
  • Keep personal belongings secure and refrain from wearing expensive watches and jewellery in crowded venues to lower your chances of being targeted. 


Even under normal circumstances, France is prone to civil unrest. Labor unions, anti-Israel groups, extreme-left environmental and social justice activists, and a substantial anti-President Emmanuel Macron plurality have all signaled their intent to engage in some kind of protest activity. The Olympics provide these groups with an unparalleled opportunity to draw global attention to their causes, secure government concessions, or, in some cases, spite Macron — whose pension, retirement, and economic reforms have inspired enthusiastic opposition.

  • Labor: Both France’s largest labor union — the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) — and several police unions have explicitly threatened to exploit the Games if they are not granted pay, bonus, and leave concessions. The French government is using a combination of concessions and strike-regulations to avoid possible labor actions.
  • Anti-Israel: France’s support for Israel and heavy-handed policing of demonstrations have exacerbated already-tense relations between the French state and its large Arab and Muslim populations. Anti-Israel demonstrations drew tens of thousands of people in the initial weeks following the 07 October attack and ensuing war despite blanket bans. Protesters are most likely to target Israeli athletes and the events in which they are competing.
  • Left-wing/environmentalist: Environmental organizations — Soulèvements de la Terre, Dernière Rénovation, and Saccage 2024 have called for protests of the Games. These and other organizations are attempting to infiltrate the Olympic volunteer force of 45,000 people that helps run the games. “Un-volunteers” are set to no-show, work inefficiently, or otherwise hamper the smooth operation of the Games. Many of the “un-volunteers” have indicated they have no group association but are seeking to mar the Games to spite Macron for his unpopular reforms. 



Key Takeaways

  • Ongoing labor disputes may manifest in transportation and logistic disruptions.
  • Local security services may displace crowds or declare areas off-limits with little warning. In such instances, having a pre-arranged mode of private transportation is recommended.
  • While most groups only want to peacefully draw attention to their causes, some groups may seek to intentionally provoke a heavy-handed police response to draw attention to state-backed violence. It is best practice to avoid all protests, as they have the capacity to rapidly escalate into violence.



France has been under the highest level of terrorist threat alert, “Emergency Attack” (Urgence Attentat), since 13 October 2023. This followed an incident where a French resident of Chechen descent, who had apparent ties to Islamist extremism, murdered a French teacher and injured three others in Arras.

Lone actors

“Lone wolf” attacks are acts of terror by an individual operating and planning independently, outside the control of a particular terror network. Since lone actors are not part of an established network, they are less visible to authorities, making their attacks more difficult to prevent. Many would-be assailants are flagged by security services, but there are often insufficient grounds for continued surveillance and intervention. Without a procurement network, lone actors rely on available low-tech means to inflict harm, including the use of
knives and vehicles as weapons.

France hosts Europe’s largest radicalized population. There are approximately 10,000 individuals on France’s terror watch list. France has longstanding societal tensions owing to its colonial legacy and approach to integration. The country is a symbol of Western secular liberalism and acts as a foil for Islamists. With the war in Gaza ongoing, and with the information space dominated by Islamist propaganda from the Muslim Brotherhood, Iranian-affiliated groups, and Salafist Jihadist groups (Islamic State, Al Qaeda), radicalized individuals are primed to plot attacks. 


Salafi jihadism is a transnational revolutionary movement committed to imposing its form of Sunni Islam — Salafism — on the Islamic world, and subsequently on the entire world through violent jihad. These movements include Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, Boko Haram, and others.

The most complex and lethal terrorist attacks are planned and executed by operatives who have been trained in camps abroad and have received ongoing financial, logistical, and technical support — most importantly, with explosives. These attacks, however, are the most frequently thwarted due to their reliance on large networks that can be discovered or penetrated by law enforcement. 

recent jihadist timeline

Palestinian and Iranian-backed

Palestinian and Iranian-backed terrorism has manifested outside the Middle East through various high-profile attacks, significantly impacting international security. Palestinian groups such as the PLO and its offshoots, including Black September, and Iran — primarily through Hezbollah — have historically targeted Western and Israeli interests abroad.

Since the start of 2024, at least five known plots have been thwarted. These groups have extensive infrastructure throughout Europe and have demonstrated capacity and intent through their actions. The Iranian regime has targeted political dissidents in Europe for decades, and its flagship proxy, Hezbollah, was responsible for the 2012 Burgas Bus Bombing in Bulgaria. In 1985, Palestinian Terrorists jointly attacked airports in Rome and Vienna, and were responsible for the infamous 1972 Munich Olympics massacre. 

recent events timeline


Key Takeaways:

  • A terrorist attack on the Paris Olympics is possible. Specifically, Global Guardian sees a low-tech lone actor attack as the most likely style of attack. 
    Attendees should exercise an abundance of caution and have contingency plans in place so that action can be taken as quickly as possible in the 
    event of an attack.
  • Global Guardian recommends identifying multiple exit points for each venue that you plan on attending.
  • With the robust security and access control measures, we advise arriving early to avoid the long lines to
    enter venues which could be targeted.
  • Attendees should monitor local media and follow all directives from authorities.


Cyber Criminals/Pro-Russia Actors

Russia considers France — as a NATO member and supporter of Ukraine — an adversary. Over the past five years, Russian attacks on the Olympic host have included denial of service attacks on government sites, ransomware attacks on more than a dozen hospitals, and misinformation attacks that spoofed the sites of the French Ministry of Defense as well as multiple popular French media outlets. Since France’s military announced that it would supply Ukraine with Storm Shadow missiles on 14 January 2024, it has reported
daily Russian cyberattacks.

While some of these attacks have been tied directly to Russian intelligence services, including the FSB’s fifth directorate (foreign operations), most of them were attributable to private criminal organizations. These criminal groups — which include the Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) groups Akira, Lockbit, and the Contioffshoot Black Basta — are motivated principally by profit. These groups have ties to the FSB and often trade “favors” — attacks on Russia’s enemies — in exchange for impunity of operation. 

The Olympics provide the ideal target for both groups. The Kremlin can punish France for its support of Ukraine, sow division and misinformation in front of a global audience, and demonstrate its ability to reach out and touch the West. The myriad Russian and pro-Russian cyber-criminals (at least one past attack on France was carried out by pro-Russian Sudanese hackers) can collect a windfall in ransoms from businesses eager to capitalize on the Games. 


Key Takeaways:

  • The likelihood of a cyberattack on the Paris Olympics is high, but the form such an attack might take is difficult to predict. Regardless, there are a 
    few steps travelers can take to mitigate their exposure.
  • Attendees should prepare for such an event by carrying hard copies of tickets, credentials, identification, and cash.
  • Malicious cyber actors can pursue a range of actions from disinformation to physically manipulating key systems through the internet of things. 
  • Travelers should cultivate and regularly check reliable sources of information throughout their trip.
  • Attendees can help prevent the theft or loss of key data using a VPN while on any public network.


Security support for the Olympics

If you’re traveling to France for the Olympic Games, Global Guardian can support before and during travel in the following ways:

  • Duty of Care membership
  • Travel Guardian platform
  • Secure transportation and executive protection
  • Medical assistance and translation
  • Medical evacuation
  • Emergency response
  • Global intelligence alerts
  • Special event security
To learn more about our services, complete the form below or call us at + 1 (703) 566-9463.

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