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Traffic to be heavily restricted during the Games, police warns

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Car traffic during the Paris 2024 Olympics will be restricted with pre-registration necessary to enter several zones, although the maximum is being done to preserve the residents’ daily lives, the French capital’s chief of police said on Wednesday.

“We want to guarantee the highest level of security while safeguarding the continuity of the economical and private lives,” Paris police chief Laurent Nunez told a press conference before unveiling a map of restricted areas for the duration of the July 26-Aug. 11 Games.

To a lesser extent, the Paralympics will also have restrictions.

“The plan is not final, we will now enter a phase of consultation to get feedback,” Nunez added.

“We are not saying that people should leave Paris. There are a lot of spaces that are not concerned by these measures. And pedestrians are allowed everywhere.”

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As expected, competition venues will only be accessible to ticket holders while a protection perimeter will be set up in immediate proximity of the sites.

Red zones, around Olympic sites, will be closed to traffic in order to protect pedestrians.

“There will be exemptions for emergency vehicles, some residents for example,” said Nunez.

“They will need to register on a platform, which will help the police to quickly identify those who are allowed through. It will not concern pedestrians and bike riders. Emergency situations will also be taken into account.”

Traffic will also be restricted in blue zones – larger than the red ones – although no previous registration will be needed.

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Most of the western part of central Paris, where the majority of events take place, will turn blue or red.

As the Games approach, parts of the city will also come to a standstill.

The Place de la Concorde, where skateboarding, breaking and 3×3 basketball competitions will take place, will be closed to traffic on June 1.

CLOSED BRIDGES

The pont Alexandre III will also be closed to traffic as early as May 17. Most bridges on the River Seine will be closing at the start of July in preparation for the opening ceremony, a long parade on barges that could be attended by some 500,000 people.

“We’re facing a situation so we have to get organised to find solutions,” Saint Denis mayor Mathieu Hanotin. “This is a work in progress.”

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Saint Denis is notably host to the Stade de France, where the athletics events will be held.

Paris 2024 chief Tony Estanguet welcomed the measures, which he deemed necessary as France is organising a compact Games within the city.

“Some 240 days before the opening ceremony it was important to share that information,” Estanguet said.

“We wanted spectacular and eco friendly Games. It means we have organise some events in central Paris, with seven temporary facilities being set up.”

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo echoed Estanguet’s point of view.

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“We fought together for an ambition – hosting a spectacular, unique Games that accelerate a transition towards more sustainability,” she said.

-Reuters

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Olympics

Only captains allowed to speak to referees at Olympics

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Men's Group B - Argentina vs Morocco - Geoffroy-Guichard Stadium, Saint-Etienne, France - July 24, 2024. General view outside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudanl

Only captains will be allowed to speak and discuss decisions with the referee during the Olympics, FIFA said on Wednesday following the rule’s first implementation at last month’s European Championship.

FIFA is encouraging the adoption of the measure by competition organisers globally after UEFA extended the new approach to all of their competitions in a bid to facilitate clearer communication.

“Without referees there is no football. Protecting match officials and ensuring they are treated with respect is fundamental for the future of the game,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said.

“Implementing measures such as ‘captain only’ is crucial in maintaining the spirit of football and safeguarding those who uphold its laws.”

The world soccer governing body added they will continue to monitor the impact of the “captain only” rule.

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“This is an important step based on the overarching idea of further enhancing fairness and respect in football while enabling an open line of dialogue between the referee and the teams,” chairman of the FIFA referees committee Pierluigi Collina said.

“As we have seen in the past, measures that are in defence of football end up being accepted.”

The Olympic soccer tournament kicked off on Wednesday with Spain taking on Uzbekistan at Paris’ Parc des Princes while Argentina faced Morocco in Saint-Etienne.

-Reuters

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Argentina beaten 2-1 by Morocco in chaotic opening game

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Men's Group B - Argentina vs Morocco - Geoffroy-Guichard Stadium, Saint-Etienne, France - July 24, 2024. Achraf Hakimi of Morocco reacts as pitch invaders run to the pitch after the match. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

A fan invasion in the opening match of the Olympic football tournament between Argentina and Morocco on Wednesday caused chaos, with Argentina eventually beaten 2-1 following a VAR review after play was suspended with the score tied at 2-2.

Argentina’s Cristian Medina scored deep in injury time to salvage what looked like a 2-2 draw, but the decision ruling out the goal was delivered about two hours after play was suspended when the teams re-emerged on to the pitch to finish the match in an empty stadium.

The teams played for three minutes and 15 seconds after VAR completed its review and disallowed the goal.

After order was restored in Saint-Etienne and the teams had left the field following the fan invasion, they discovered that the match had not been completed but suspended by officials.

The venue manager told Reuters the game had been interrupted, adding that a decision about whether the match would be completed was being discussed.

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The teams re-emerged just before 7:00 p.m. local time and warmed up a second time so the final minutes could be played.

Organisers later said they were working with stakeholders to understand the causes of the fan invasion and determine appropriate measures.

The gold medal winners in 2004 and 2008 were not at their best despite lining up with recent Copa America winners Julian Alvarez, Nicolas Otamendi and Geronimo Rulli.

Soufiane Rahimi put Morocco ahead after Achraf Hakimi set him up from the right following a superb passing move in the final seconds of the first half.

Rahimi netted his second from the penalty spot in the 49th minute before Giuliano Simeone pulled one back for Javier Mascherano’s side in the 68th.

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Medina then found the net 16 minutes into stoppage time before fans stormed the pitch and objects were thrown at players as chaos erupted in the eastern French city.

Spain beat Uzbekistan 2-1 in their opening match of Group C at the Parc de Princes.

Spain, who struggled to hit their stride in the opening stages of the game, took the lead in the 29th minute against Uzbekistan with a close-range finish from Marc Pubill off Abel Ruiz’s flick.

Uzbekistan, cheered on by an ecstatic crowd, equalised just before halftime thanks to Eldor Shomurodov’s penalty following a VAR review for a Pau Cubarsi foul.

“For me, Uzbekistan were no surprise,” Spain coach Santi Denia said. “We have achieved our objective, but it’s been a very difficult game and now it is time to improve. That’s my job, I have to transmit better.”

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“I told the team at halftime to improve ball circulation, which was what we were missing. We have to improve that. If we do it we will have more options to achieve victory.”

Spain wasted a golden chance to restore the lead after the break when Sergio Gomez’s penalty effort was saved by Abduvohid Nematov, but the Real Sociedad player redeemed himself and found the net in the 62nd minute.

-Reuters

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Okumagba rallies support for Super Falcons in Bordeaux

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President of the Super Eagles Supporters' Club, Prince Vincent Okumagba flanked by journalists, Kunle Solaja and Francis Achi

As the clock ticks down to the kick-off of the Nigeria versus Brazil in the women’s football event of the Paris 2024, the president of the Super Eagles Supporters Club, Prince Vincent Okumagba has told the Sports Village Square of his efforts to ensure that the Super Falcons have appreciable support in their Group C opener with Brazil on Thursday.

He admitted that Brazil have always have appreciable support any where they played owing to the country’s pedigree in world football, he is confident that the Super Falcons will not lack support when they begin a battle for Olympic medal in Bordeaux on Thursday.

He revealed that an appreciable number of supporters followed him from Nigeria and he has also been going round in Bordeaux and other parts of France to garner support for the Nigerian women football team.

Some of the supporters will be given attire to wear when the Nigerian team play against their Group C opponents.

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