Olympic Flame Arrives in Marseille Amid Heightened Security Measures

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Marseille welcomed the Olympic flame with stringent security measures as it arrived just outside the Old Port on Wednesday, marking 79 days until the Paris 2024 Games' Opening Ceremony.

Anticipation soared as over 150,000 spectators geared up to witness the ceremonial arrival following a six-hour procession of the historic three-masted Belem, which embarked from Greece on April 27 carrying the flame ignited in Ancient Olympia 11 days earlier.

The majestic ship was greeted by a fleet of 1,024 boats, underscoring the grandeur of the occasion.

With safety paramount, approximately 6,000 law enforcement officers stood guard as Florent Manaudou, France's 2012 Olympic men's 50 metres freestyle swimming champion, prepared to carry the flame ashore shortly after 1730 GMT, in the esteemed presence of President Emmanuel Macron.

The deployment of police canine units and elite forces snipers reinforced security measures, ensuring a seamless and protected event.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin underscored the unprecedented level of security, emphasising that Marseille would host the event under optimal safety conditions, maintaining the vibrant spirit of the city amidst the festivities.

Thierry Reboul, Paris 2024 executive director overseeing ceremonies, described the Marseille event as the fifth ceremonial milestone of the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics, highlighting the significance of creating lasting memories in the historic city.

"Marseille is the ideal spot to create memories," remarked Reboul, echoing the sentiment of Tony Estanguet, president of the Paris 2024 organizing committee, who hailed Marseille as a natural choice for the momentous occasion.

The ceremonial proceedings will culminate in a rap concert on a floating stage, captivating an audience of 45,000 spectators.

As the Mediterranean breeze gently swept through the Old Port on Wednesday morning, Marseille basked in the tranquility of the moment, poised to embark on a historic journey as the Olympic flame continued its relay.

Former Olympique de Marseille soccer legends Jean-Pierre Papin, Didier Drogba, and Basile Boli, alongside acclaimed chef Alexandre Mazzia, will kickstart the torch relay on Thursday, symbolising Marseille's rich sporting and culinary heritage.

With over 10,000 participants set to join the relay, the flame will journey through diverse landscapes before reaching its final destination near the Louvre in Paris, at the iconic Jardin des Tuileries.

The Olympic flame's arrival heralds the countdown to the much-anticipated Opening Ceremony, slated to take place on the picturesque River Seine on July 26.

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