Paris 2024: “Historic! », “Marseille en fête”, the arrival of the flame in Marseille seen by the press

A grandiose arrival that buried fears, at least in the press? For the sports daily L'Equipe, an "Olympic breath" swept Marseille with the arrival of the Olympic flame, Wednesday May 8, after a twelve-day crossing of the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem

Paris 2024: “Historic! », “Marseille en fête”, the arrival of the flame in Marseille seen by the press

A grandiose arrival that buried fears, at least in the press? For the sports daily L'Equipe, an "Olympic breath" swept Marseille with the arrival of the Olympic flame, Wednesday May 8, after a twelve-day crossing of the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem. The last survivor of the French three-masted ship – launched in 1896, the year of the first modern Olympic Games (OG) –, surrounded by some thousand boats in the harbor, was “like a school of fish of which he had been the admiral", reports L'Equipe.

It must be said that the scenography was mastered. “A precise choreography, for a myriad of hulls accompanied by a smiling weather forecast and [a] complicit mistral which had felt the need to catch its breath” until its “theatrical entry into the Old Port at 7 p.m.” , depicts Le Figaro. After the lighting of the torch, carried by swimmer Florent Manaudou, the first torchbearer in France, “a spectacular fireworks display and La Marseillaise”, before the Patrouille de France “[welcomes] the event”. A day that the newspaper Le Parisien headlines: “Marseille celebrating. »

“Some were waiting for the local child”

Then the Olympic medalist arrives from Belem, transmits the fire lit in Olympia (Greece) to Nantenin Keïta, Paralympic champion in the 400 meters in Rio (2016), before “a little twist of theater, as we like them”, rejoices La Provence, the regional daily of the stage, which devotes fourteen pages to the event and describes the day as “historic”: “A barely hidden face and a broad smile. Jul, the rapper with 26 gold records and three diamond-certified albums, applauded by the crowd. » From now on, the “surprise” so entertained by Tony Estanguet, president of the Paris 2024 organizing committee, has a name: that of the best-known musical figure from Marseille and who has the honor of setting the Olympic cauldron ablaze, in front of 230,000 spectators, according to the mayor of Marseille, Benoît Payan (Socialist Party).

However, another name was circulating for this mysterious third torchbearer, in a mixture of rumors and fantasies. At midday, the newspaper L'Equipe wrote that, "according to [its] information, [the third carrier] should be Zinédine Zidane... unless there is yet another change of program." “Some were waiting for the local child, the kid from Castellane,” reports La Provence, for whom this Wednesday, May 8, 2024, “will remain engraved in memories” thanks to “a communion that feels good.” The Marseille footballer “would have been good, but I think [Jul] is even better, especially for young people! », Ventures Caroline, 22, in the columns of Ouest-France.

But who cares who carries it as long as we have fire. In the front row, the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, applauds with a smile, he who wants “his share of success” by going to Marseille, according to Libération. “The president does not miss an opportunity to ride on the jubilation expressed during the ceremony welcoming the flame, points out the daily. He grants an interview to France 2 and TF1 right at the start of their 8 p.m. news. »

“Security barriers worthy of Fort Knox”

Behind the VIP area, the crowd enjoys the arrival of the flame and the lighting of the cauldron, despite the crowds. “We had to elbow our way, sometimes wait more than an hour to pass through security barriers worthy of Fort Knox, and almost no one or almost no one really found the perfect seat to watch the entire show,” we learn from La Provence.

Absolute security, because France “has been the target of repeated Islamist terrorist attacks over the last decade, and security was reinforced on Wednesday (…), writes The New York Times, which recalls that 6,000 police and gendarmes were mobilized. Gérald Darmanin, interior minister and potential presidential candidate, described the level of security as “unprecedented”. »

The downside is precisely security. Before the concert, scheduled for 9 p.m., by Marseille rappers Soprano and Alonzo, who were to complete this Olympic day, crowd movements occurred. “Panicked mothers, some of them in tears, were trying to find air for their children, in a stifling atmosphere which could, in hindsight, have gone very wrong,” describes L’Equipe, which points to “poorly controlled management inputs-outputs”.

Despite this hitch, the arrival of the sacred fire was widely covered – live coverage by television (6 million viewers on TF1 and France 2) and the press, including Le Monde – and received favorably in France. If Benoît Payan saw his city as the “center of the world”, the international media, unsurprisingly, did not take the same interest in the event.

For the French-speaking Belgian daily Le Soir, however, “the spectacle [was] dazzling in front of a captivated crowd”. “The fervor is finally here,” enthuses the media. In Japan, heir to the last Summer Games, the Yomiuri shimbun, the largest Japanese draw and among the largest in the world, recounts that "a popular local singer [Jul] received the torch and lit the torch, carrying the 'excitement at its peak'. Closer to us, the British daily The Guardian did not devote an article to the event, just like Bild, the most widely distributed publication in Germany.