Firearms to protect athletes in the Olympic Village? GETTY IMAGES

Security is on everyone's mind in France because the Organising Committee and the government do not want the Olympic Games to be overshadowed by criminal acts or terrorism, even in the Olympic Village, where more than 14,000 people will live.

Security is crucial to the organisation of the Games. At least 35,000 police officers will be deployed on the opening day, but there will also be the need to secure the various host cities, the various venues where the competitions will take place and any potential targets for terrorist attacks.

This challenge, perhaps the greatest in France's security history, will also include an extra challenge within the Olympic Village. The site where some 14,500 people (athletes and coaches) will gather for more than two weeks is also a critical security location.

There will of course be both internal and external security, but beyond that. Will there be armed security for the delegations in the Olympic Village during the Paris Games? Security is the responsibility of the host country; any country wishing to provide its own security must be coordinated (and authorised by special legislation) so as not to violate French sovereignty.

This question seems to worry the authorities, who prefer to remain silent on this very sensitive issue in a context of international tension. In the Olympic Village, athletes from all over the world will live together, as they have done for decades, bringing together cultures, languages, religions, histories and, unfortunately, long-standing unresolved conflicts.

It is not easy to reconcile all this in one place, even though the Olympic spirit is reflected in the Olympic Charter, which all National Olympic Committees must not only sign and observe, but also respect and defend.

A police security officer walks through the Olympic Village at Rio 2016. GETTY IMAGES
A police security officer walks through the Olympic Village at Rio 2016. GETTY IMAGES

Several hypotheses, often not confirmed by official sources, visible by attending major events (Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup), suggest that some countries have special concessions, such as the main target of terrorist attacks, the United States. "The Americans will do what they always do, they will get exemptions", is a prediction whispered but not officially confirmed by any authority.

For years, the United States has been deploying its personnel, albeit in coordination with the host country of major events. Not only traditional security, but also intelligence systems, which, although never officially confirmed, seem to be the rule in these turbulent times in which the Paris Games will take place.

"There will be no official answer, it is too sensitive, but I can assure you that Israeli security will be armed in the village. And since the Americans always do what they do, they will do the same", a source close to the French Olympic movement pointed out.

Asked by AFP about the presence or absence of armed personnel in the Olympic village, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin refused to answer, as did the Paris police prefecture. This is logical, because it would open the door for all countries to want or feel entitled to do the same, turning the process into a security chaos.

In front of the members of the Senate's legal commission, the minister also refused to specify how the Olympic delegations would be protected. The same silence was maintained by the organisers, who referred the matter to the French authorities.

Security checks an athlete before entering the Olympic Village at Beijing 2022. GETTY IMAGES
Security checks an athlete before entering the Olympic Village at Beijing 2022. GETTY IMAGES

The IOC also avoids answering this question, passing the buck to the local authorities, who have sovereignty in this matter. "The security arrangements for the Olympic Games are the responsibility of the local authorities and are implemented according to the context of each edition of the Games," the organism said.

In addition to the above-mentioned countries, the United States and Israel (which suffered the sadly remembered attack in Munich in 1972), there will be several countries in conflict, such as Iran, Palestine, Syria, Ukraine, Russia and Belarus (albeit as neutrals).

At the moment, there are major armed conflicts in Burkina Faso, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Myanmar or Nigeria in a world in turmoil, where armed conflicts and internal problems and conflicts between neighbouring countries have quadrupled (since Sidney 2000).

Many athletes will go to the Village with latent conflicts and Olympic Villages are risky places. Hosting nations in conflict during the Olympic Games "has happened many times and organisers have always known how to deal with it," a member of the Organising Committee's Athletes' Commission told AFP on condition of anonymity in the summer of 2023.

A police officer stands close to some athletes as they walk in the Olympic Village at Rio 2016. GETTY IMAGES
A police officer stands close to some athletes as they walk in the Olympic Village at Rio 2016. GETTY IMAGES

"We are taking the necessary security measures inside the Village to ensure the safety of the athletes. The work is being done in collaboration with each committee so that everyone feels safe in the Village," said Laurent Michaud, Director of the Olympic Village.

"The delegation itself decides on its own security measures and is free to decide on its own measures if it deems it necessary," added Laurent Michaud, who knows, or should know, that no country can do this without French approval, as it would violate its sovereignty.

When the journalist went a little further and tried to ask whether or not the delegations have the right to be accompanied by armed security officers in the village, Laurent Michaud preferred silence, evasions or the simple affirmation of "not knowing", which is unlikely given his high position, although his public stance is understandable.

These actions leave the door open to the application of the ancient Greek proverb "silence implies consent", which has been copied and used in many European countries with their own versions (England, Italy, Spain, among others, have theirs), as well as in France itself: "Qui ne dit mot, consent" ("He who says nothing, consents").