SONJA NIKCEVIC / AIPS* in PARIS: Hours before kickoff to Euro 2016 at the Stade de France, a security team with sniffer dogs combed the stadium in a ‘routine check for explosives’ which also included the media working rooms.
This illustrated the level of concern as France addressed concerns about the tournament with an unprecedented level of security. More than 90,000 security staff have been deployed to try to protect the 5m fans expected to attend the 10 venues.
An estimated 3,200 journalists and non-rights holders are expected to traverse the country – transport strikes permitting – in a record coverage level.
UEFA’s expanded Euro format of 24 teams means that the doors of the tournament are also open to more members of the media from more nations, including five newcomers in Northern Ireland, Wales, Slovakia, Iceland and Albania.
The Stade de France in St-Denis is the start and end point as it hosts the Opening Match, Final and five more games in between and has the largest media operations capacity, with 592 working places in the main media working room, and an additional 204-large working area for photographers near the pitch.
A press conference theatre hosts 238 media places and a 26m platform for cameras while those unable to attend can follow a live stream on UEFA’s media information system in a selection of languages. Screens inside the press room also show the press conferences live, a crucial organisational lapse at last month’s Champions League Final in Milan.
Accreditation centers across France opened on June 6t with colleagues confirming short and swift wait times and almost no lines during accreditation pickup. The exception, as expected, was at the Stade de France on June 9, when wait time extended to 40 minutes.
Some 6,500 volunteers aged between 18 and 81 have been engaged for the Euros, with 68 involved in the media operations sector of the Stade de France.
One notable absence was local media transport. Media shuttle buses between transport hubs, stadia and city centres have become a standard logistical feature of all recent World Cups and previous European Championships.
** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide and is staging its annual congress. More information: www.AIPSmedia.com
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