French pension protesters target 2024 Olympics with new disruption tactics

French pension protesters target 2024 Olympics with new disruption tactics
Saccage 2024 in front of Paris 8 University. Credit: Fanny Marlier / Reporterre

As demonstrations against France's pension reform continue, protestors have increasingly threatened to target the Olympic Games if the government doesn't back down on its plans.

Now, activists are making concrete plans to disrupt the 2024 Games in Paris, with some signing up to be official volunteers who will then withdraw at the last moment or simply not show up when scheduled.

Due to be held in summer 2024, the Olympics will start with an opening ceremony on the Seine River. Athletes will be welcomed on a 6 km-long boat parade – a change from the typical ceremonies held in the central stadium of previous Games. Organisers told the Guardian that the event is intended to be "audacious".

The inauguration will include around 170 boats, BMX bike stunts over bridges, and 80 giant screens for spectators. Around 35,000 policemen and AI-powered mass surveillance will provide security.

'Destruction 2024'

The grandiose opening proposals have drawn heavy criticism at a time when much of the French public is irate about Macron's heavy-handed move to increase the retirement age. Anti-Olympics activists have mobilised into groups like "Saccage 2024" (Destruction 2024) that criticise the Olympics that will depend on volunteers whilst benefitting business interests, The Guardian reports.

“Volunteering is supposed to be for the common good; that is not the case for the Olympic Games – it does not have charitable aims,” a Saccage 2024 member told the Guardian.

Organisers are looking to recruit over 45,000 volunteers who may be working up to 10 hours per day, reports. Volunteers will be provided with uniforms, free travel and meal vouchers.

Games officials explain that applicants must undergo background checks to ensure that only "sincere" candidates are selected.

It is unclear how many 'fake volunteers' have registered, with the application deadline on 3 May. But activists are defiant with one stating that she "had never seen this level of involvement", despite organising civil unrest at sports competitions before.

The Games have also come under fire for using migrant workers on several construction sites. It is reported that these workers work for little pay with no resting days and no contracts.

Paid not to strike

Labour unions are also expected to plan disruptions and have already set their sights on the Games, critical of the government spending it has received.

Last month, hundreds of electricians and gas technicians from France's largest union infiltrated an energy distribution centre and shut off power from the construction site of the Olympic Village.

Related News

Transport workers who have regularly led strikes against the pension reform might also interrupt procedures during the gigantic sporting event, which is spread around 16 cities.

Paris politician Valerie Pecresse tried earlier this year to limit the rights of these workers to strike in an attempt to prevent major disruptions. However she was unable to introduce legal orders against protesting. The Paris transit operator is negotiating with the labour unions, offering bonuses of 450 to avoid strikes.

Copyright © 2024 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.