Paris Olympics opening ceremony to be held during sunset on July 26

PARIS — The opening ceremony of the Paris Olympics along the river Seine will be held during sunset, organizers said Friday.

It’s the first time an Olympic opening ceremony will be held outside a stadium setting, in line with the Paris organizers’ motto: “Games Wide Open.” About 10,500 athletes will parade through the heart of the French capital on boats on the Seine along a 6-kilometer (3.7-mile) route.

Organizers said the open-air event will start on July 26 at 7:30 p.m. Paris time.

They said the ceremony will offer “an unprecedented experience, using the natural light of the setting sun with all its nuances to illuminate the river promenade of all the world’s best athletes along the Seine, in the heart of the capital.”

This week, the French government said tourists won’t be given free access to watch the opening ceremony over security concerns. Free access will be invitation-only instead.

Organizers had planned a grandiose opening ceremony July 26 for as many as 600,000 people, most watching free of charge from riverbanks. But security and logistical concerns — and an outcry from booksellers along the city’s picturesque quays — have led the government to progressively scale back its ambitions.

Earlier this year, the overall number of spectators was reduced to around 300,000.


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