In two short days, the senators went to the end of the bill on the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Before the groups’ explanations of vote and the solemn vote, scheduled for January 31, the point on the main measures of the text .
Video surveillance “augmented” by artificial intelligence tested until 2025
This is the most sensitive point of the bill. Also the most controversial. To ensure the security of the Olympic Games, the government wishes to acquire a new tool, through video protection with algorithms, which analyze the images in real time to detect certain predetermined events considered “abnormal”. After the Stade de France scandal, the executive thinks of crowd movements, but also of suspicious gatherings, an abandoned package, or why not a person running in the opposite direction of the crowd’s movement. The objective is also to combat the risk of terrorist attacks. In the event of a potentially suspicious situation, the police are alerted, before taking any decision.
The use of facial recognition has been rejected by the government. The system will identify “situations”, underlined the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, and not individuals as such. The device is tested until June 25, 2025, well after the end of the Olympic Games, for “sporting, recreational or cultural events”. The Olympic Games are therefore not the only ones concerned.
Olympic Games: Agnès Canayer defends the use of “augmented” video
The senatorial majority LR/Union centriste supported this major innovation, which the CNIL (National Commission for Computing and Liberties) has described as a “turning point”. The rapporteur Agnès Canayer (see video above), member of the LR group, accompanied it with a strengthening of the control of the Cnil in the learning phase by artificial intelligence. The senators also insisted on the need for permanent human control and the training of authorized persons.
Faced with this decision, defenders of public and individual freedoms are warning. The left and environmentalists denounce a profound and dangerous change. They accuse the government of taking advantage of the Olympic Games, which would only be a “pretext”, to move towards a “surveillance society”, denounced Senator EELV Thomas Dossus (see video below). Their fear: that the device goes from experimentation to generalization. And that by taking a first step towards this type of technology, whose opponents denounce the inefficiency, France goes one day even further, to the detriment of our freedoms. For the left, it’s “big brother is watching you”.
Olympic Games: Thomas Dossus (EELV) denounces the use of algorithmic video surveillance
Security: Gérard Darmanin does not completely rule out resorting to the army, as a last resort
The issue of security also passes, in a more traditional way, by the number of police forces on the ground. And it takes a lot for the Olympics. Before the Senate, Gérard Darmanin did not rule out resorting, only if necessary, to the armyif the planned device struggles to be put in place, in particular if it is not possible to find enough private security agents and if the Paris town hall is unable to hire the agents planned for the municipal police.
The army to secure the 2024 Olympics: too early to say, according to Darmanin
Sanctions against environmental activists who interrupt a match or people without tickets
Another security measure: the text provides for the creation of new offenses, in particular concerning the introduction into sports enclosures illegally, that is to say without a ticket. It is the continuation of the events of the Stade de France. The text also targets people who enter the field to express a political opinion, such as environmental activists. An amendment by centrist senator Claude Kern increases the fine from 1,500 to 3,750 euros.
The text also provides for mandatory stadium bans for certain most serious offences. They were previously optional.
Already used in airports, body scanners can be set up for the Olympics, the bill provides, in order to control the entry of sports facilities for more than 300 people.
Fight against doping: authorized genetic tests
To bring national law into line with the World Anti-Doping Code, the senators permanently integrated into the Sports Code the measures allowing genetic tests to be carried out in the fight against doping. We are talking here about comparison of genetic fingerprints or examination of genetic characteristics.
Foreign doctors, work on Sundays, derogations for advertising
Among the many measures in the bill is the creation of a “polyclinic” health center in the heart of the Olympic Village. It also authorizes foreign doctors from delegations to practice within the village.
The bill includes certain derogations from labor law, during the Games. This is the case for work on Sundays, for the municipalities where the Olympic sites are located, as well as the neighboring municipalities.
During the Olympic Games, the government has also provided for the authorization of advertising near historical monuments, in particular on the route of the Olympic flame.
Senators’ outcry against the special Catherine Pgard amendment
It should be noted that François Patriat, president of the group of Macronist senators, has tabled an amendment allowing Catherine Pgard to remain at the head of the Château de Versailles estate, where the horse riding events will be organized. The president of the public establishment has reached the age limit. An amendment supported by the Minister of Sport, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, with “a big yes, in capital letters”, she was cheerful, stressing that Catherine Pgard knew “every corner” of the Castle.
But the idea went very badly among the senators present in the session. “It’s the doing of the prince”, denounced the socialist Sylvie Robert. “It is incomprehensible that there was not someone trained to prepare the sequel”, is surprised Senator LR Michel Savin. “Again, a jumper (legislative, that is to say a subject unrelated to the text). It is no longer a bill, it is an equestrian event”, mocked the communist Pierre Ouzoulias, who recalls “that it is about a president of a public establishment whose age limit has been exceeded since 2021… I think there is no shortage of candidates”. In view of the importance of senators in the preparation of the Olympics, “for Ile-de-France, the government should postpone the senatorial elections”, quipped the senator from Paris, Philippe Dominati. “The wisdom would be to withdraw the amendment,” suggested Laurent Lafon, centrist chairman of the Culture Committee.
Faced with the disapproval of the senators, François Patriat, who would surely have been outvoted, preferred to withdraw his amendment. It should, no doubt, make a comeback when the text passes through the Assembly.
The issue of festivals
The subject was carried by several senators. Because of the Olympic Games and the very large number of police forces required, as we have seen, the government has asked certain summer festivals to be moved, such as the Festival d’Avignon. Alerted to this issue during the debates, the Minister of the Interior stressed that no festival has been canceled.
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Paris 2024 Olympic Games: the Senate completes the examination of the text with some modifications
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