French Prime Minister Manuel Valls insisted Sunday that fan zones at Euro 2016 will be as safe as the tournament’s stadiums despite fears they may be soft targets for terror attacks.
Security concerns around the June 10-July 10 event, which is expected to attract up to eight million fans, have been heightened after the Brussels attacks which left 28 people dead and 340 injured.
“These fans zones will be secure, closed, bags will be searched and at the same time the party will take place,” Valls told France 2 television.
Since the attacks in Brussels, many politicians on the right have cast doubts over how safe the fan zones will be and fear that the high profile supporters areas such as the one in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower will be targetted.
Fan zones, which will be based in each of the 10 host cities, are expected to welcome between 10,000 and 100,000 supporters during matches.
“There will be seven to eight million people expected during the tournament, mostly in the fan zones,” added Valls.
“The interior minister has discussed it with the mayors of the cities which will organise the Euros. There will be the same security with the same methods, staffing that apply to the grounds.
“France is a great, modern country which is capable of assuring the security of its citizens in the face of the terrorist menace.”
In the immediate aftermath of the Brussels attacks, Valls said there was no intention whatsoever of calling off the tournament, saying to do so would be “a victory for terrorists.”
Valls pointed to the staging of the Cop 21 international climate talks in Paris last November just days after the jihadist terror attacks that killed 130 people in Paris.
The Euro 2016 tournament features 24 teams playing 51 matches at 10 venues across the country from Marseille in the south to Lille in the north and also Paris.