Thousands of anti-terror police deployed to guard Tour de France participants

  • The French government is deploying 23,000 anti-terror police during the Tour de France
  • Elite special forces will be guarding participants throughout the more than 3,500 km route
  • France is under a state of emergency following the deadly attacks in Paris last November

Months after the deadly attacks in Paris, the French government will be deploying up to 23,000 anti-terror police to guard participants to the annual Tour de France.

Members of the elite police force Groupe d’intervention de la Gendarmerie nationale (GIGN) will be assigned to different stations along the race route at every stage of the event, which will occur from July 2 to 24 this year, covering a distance of 3,519 kilometres.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve emphasized that the officers are “ready to intervene at any moment if needed” while acknowledging the current security environment in the country.

France is currently under a state of emergency and security across the country is an all-time high after the Paris attacks last November.

“Everyone understands that this year the Tour de France is taking place in a particular context… It is our collective responsibility to ensure the safety of spectators during the Tour de France,” Cazeneuve told the Express.

Authorities in France have also begun coordinating with the governments in Spain, Andorra and Switzerland, which will all be featured in this year’s Tour de France route.

In addition, each host town along the route will feature at least one operation center each.

The Interior Ministry has also acknowledged the “high” security threat this summer season when sporting events can become a target for terrorists. In addition to the Tour de France, the country is also set to host the Euro 2016 or the UEFA European Championship in football.

Earlier, the French Parliament has approved the two-month extension of the state of emergency, giving police high powers of arrest and detention, covering the periods when the major sporting events will be held.