“Very high security level” for June’s Euro Championships in France

“Very high security level” for June’s Euro Championships in France
The Eiffel Tower is illuminated with the Belgium national colors black, yellow and red in honour of the victims of the attacks at the airport and the metro station in Brussels. Explosions, at least one likely caused by a suicide bomber, rocked the Brussels airport and its subway system Tuesday, prompting a lockdown of the Belgian capital and heightened security across Europe. Photo: AP
French interior minister’s comments come amid fears that fan zones will be targets for terrorists
Published: 9:29 AM, March 23, 2016
Updated: 5:45 PM, March 23, 2016
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PARIS - With Europe on high alert, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Tuesday that the deadly explosions in Brussels are a reminder that a “very high security level” will be required during this year’s European Championship in France.

Speaking hours after three explosions killed dozens in the Belgian capital, Cazeneuve said that everything will be put in place to guarantee “collective security” at the June 10-July 10 tournament, with the mobilisation of specially trained emergency staff, police forces and firefighters.

In the wake of the Paris attacks that left 130 people dead in November, France remains in a state of emergency which was recently extended to May 26, two weeks before the opening game. Tournament organizers had strengthened security measures and made changes to the particularly vulnerable fan zones well before the events in Brussels.

Fan zones are typically set up in squares or parks near the center of the city, allowing supporters to watch a game on a big screen. Security can be lighter than at stadiums.

About seven million supporters visited the fan zones in the host cities during Euro 2012 in Ukraine and Poland, and there are concerns the designated Euro 2016 areas for the public could be targets for attackers. Each fan zone can hold 10,000 to 100,000 people and French authorities want to maintain a festive atmosphere within those areas while protecting crowds.

Cazeneuve said Euro 2016 should bring “sportsmanship, festivities and security for teams, accompanying staff and spectators.”

French authorities last week used an open-air screening of a match to simulate a chemical attack that would be more devastating than the explosions near the Stade de France on Nov 13, when suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the stadium while France was playing a friendly match against Germany.

After the simulation exercise, Cazeneuve said more training has been planned ahead of Euro 2016.

Although France’s rugby team has played three matches there in the Six Nations Championship since then, the football team returns for the first time next Tuesday night, when it hosts Russia.

France players Laurent Koscielny and Antoine Griezmann both said the match should go ahead.

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