The opening ceremony of the Paris Olympics on July 26, 2024, will be held on the River Seine, organizers announced on Monday, breaking the long-held Summer Games tradition of a stadium procession of athletes and officials.
More than 160 boats filled with athletes and officials from more than 200 countries will sail almost 6 kilometers (4 miles) between the Pont d'Austerlitz and Pont d'Iena bridges in central Paris, with the 2024 Olympics closing ceremony scheduled to be held at the Trocadero, an expanse of gardens and fountains overlooking the Eiffel Tower.
"Today is a stand-out moment," said Tony Estanguet, a three-time Olympic canoe C1 gold medallist who heads up the Paris 2024 organizing committee.
"There are a lot of emotions, a lot of enthusiasm. The opening ceremony is by far the biggest of markers."
In a Twitter post announcing the decision, the Paris 2024 organizing committee said it would be "the most spectacular and accessible" opening ceremony in Olympic history.
Paris 2024 organizers are expecting crowds of 600,000 people for what they call the largest-ever Olympic ceremony.
Part of the public will be dispersed along the banks of the Seine in ticketed stands while the rest are able to take part for free.
France President Emmanuel Macron rubber stamped the idea of having the ceremony on the Seine in July despite some concerns voiced over how to best ensure security for such a massive event that passes by many well-known parts of Paris's iconic cityscape.
Security officials had asked for a limit of 25,000 people while organizers and Paris city hall had initially argued for two million, according to a mayoral source.
Prime Minister Jean Castex oversaw an interministerial committee meeting last month during which he asked Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin to makes some "suggestions" over security for Olympic sites, notably the opening ceremony.
Castex said he wanted proposals "by the end of the year for the opening ceremony and June 2022 at the latest for all sites and events".