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Champions League final chaos 'fantastic wake-up call', says Paris Olympics chief

Problems during the 2022 Champions League final were a "fantastic wake-up call" to Paris Olympics organisers and lessons have been learned, the boss of this summer's Games has told Sky News.

A UEFA investigation highlighted significant issues with logistics for crowds around the Stade de France and criticised French authorities for deflecting responsibility for chaos that led to Liverpool fans being crushed.

The stadium on the outskirts of Paris is the centrepiece venue for the Olympics and Paralympics, with athletics events and ceremonies being staged there.

Half a million spectators from Britain are expected at the Olympics - the biggest foreign source of ticket sales - and they are being assured it will be safe with just under six months to go.

Paris 2024 CEO Etienne Thobois told Sky News: "I think we've all learned a lot from that (Champions League final) and we want to make sure that this never happens again. And that's not just for the Olympics and Paralympics, but that's throughout. It was a fantastic wake up call.

"The fact that it was late planning, we only got the competition (three) months out, there was a lack of coordination.

"It's no excuse, but I can say that now with planning with all the authorities, everybody knows what he has to do."

The lack of major issues at the Rugby World Cup at the Stade de France last year provided reassurance to Games organisers.

"We also know the Olympics are different," Mr Thobois said. "But I can tell you we have learned a lot from these unfortunate incidents (at the Champions League final) and I can tell you that that is not going to happen here during the Paris 2024 Olympics."

One of the major security challenges for the Olympics is having the opening ceremony through the heart of Paris to flaunt the landmarks rather than the typical stadium setting.

Athletes will parade on boats on the River Seine and hundreds of thousands of spectators are expected to line the route, and one of the largest security operations in French history will be in place for the Games.

"That will work only if we can secure and deliver in a safe environment," Mr Thobois said. "And that's what we're working on every day. There's been an unprecedented level of planning."

But with war raging in the Middle East on multiple fronts, is sticking with such an open-air ceremony a risk?

"We will not take chances... we never put anything at risk," Mr Thobois said.

Pointing out that the Olympics usually takes place with conflicts going on, he added: "From the outset you know that you need to secure and deliver a safe environment for people to enjoy and to be able to party and that is no exception.

"So from the start, we looked again at every building, every square metre to again to make sure that we can deliver this fantastic celebration of athletes, of sport, of culture in a secure and safe way."

One pressing domestic issue for the Olympics and Paralympics is the spectre of worker activism.

As Mr Thobois was speaking to Sky News during a trip to London, Paris was encircled by farmers protesting on tractors to highlight grievances over the future of their industry.

Moves are under way to attempt to placate unions, with French police working on the Olympics and Paralympics offered bonuses of up to €1,900 (£1,622).

It follows days of protests and work stoppages earlier this month in a push for better pay and conditions.

Mr Thobois said: "We have a very good relationship with the unions and I think it's quite clear that the Olympic and Paralympic Games are not a target for these unions... and actually, on the contrary, everybody is really proud of welcoming the world and showing what France has to offer."

Asked if he still fears being held to ransom by trade unions, Mr Thobois replied: "I don't think so and if you look at the past, we've hosted the Rugby World Cup (last year), we hosted big sporting events and that hasn't happening in the past and I don't think it will happen this year."