Olympic Chief supports Seine River Opening Ceremony. GETTY IMAGES

Thomas Bach pledged that the Paris Games' Opening Ceremony along the Seine would be "iconic" and "unforgettable," notwithstanding persistent concerns regarding security for the open-air river procession.

With a deployment of 6,000 additional police officers to cover the arrival of the Olympic torch in Marseille, Thomas Bach has talk about the Paris 2024 Opening Ceremony spectacle planned for 26 July looms as a substantial question mark over the Paris Olympics. Departing from the customary tradition of teams parading through the athletics stadium, the event will instead see participants navigating down the Seine aboard a flotilla of vessels.

Anticipation is high, with an estimated audience of up to half a million, including those observing from adjacent edifices. This departure from the convention introduces an element of novelty and excitement, albeit amidst lingering concerns regarding logistics and security.

"The very meticulous, very professional approach (from French authorities) gives us all the confidence that we can have this opening ceremony on the river Seine and that this opening ceremony will be iconic, will be unforgettable for the athletes, and everybody will be safe and secure," Bach said in an exclusive interview with AFP.

Persistent speculation surrounds the potential necessity for French authorities to relocate or modify the ceremony amid ongoing security concerns. Recent events, such as the March attack on a concert hall in Moscow, claimed by an offshoot of the Islamic State group, only serve to exacerbate doubts, and heighten vigilance. The delicate balance between maintaining the event's grandeur and ensuring the safety of participants and spectators remains a focal point of deliberation and contingency planning.

French President Emmanuel Macron recently suggested the possibility of relocating the ceremony to the national stadium, the Stade de France. However, local organisers have consistently maintained that such a move is not on the table.

"Everybody is determined to have this opening ceremony on the river Seine ... while at the same time looking at all the different scenarios," Bach explained.

Bach expressed his optimism about "reviving the Olympic spirit" with the anticipated return of spectators at Paris 2024. This follows the subdued atmosphere of the previous Tokyo Games, which unfolded in empty stadiums due to the impact of Covid-19.

Two editions marred by disruptions would have implied "the Olympic Games and the Olympic values would have disappeared from the world's attention for eight years. Eight years is too long a time and so then it would have been very difficult to revive the Olympic spirit," he said.

When questioned about the sentiment in France and the critique surrounding the Games, he attributed it in part to the prevailing global uncertainty.

"It's not only related to the Olympic Games. It's part of our zeitgeist because we are living in uncertain times. And there are people who are sceptical. Some are even scared. Some are worried about their future and under these circumstances, you can understand some questions and some criticism," IOC's President said.