Risk In Focus: Paris Olympics and UEFA European Championship Summer 2024

Over the past month, I’ve had the privilege of hosting several Risk in Focus discussion groups to better understand what our European colleagues are concerned about in Europe this summer. Tens of millions of visitors are expected to flock to Europe for the UEFA European Championship in Germany and the Paris Olympics in France. This massive flux in population density presents its own risk in major cities like Paris and Berlin, and the events themselves attract risks big and small.

Risk in Focus

The events this summer are set against a backdrop of economic and political uncertainty in Europe. Post-covid economic rebounds have stagnated as conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East continue to drive up energy costs, and governments in Germany and France continue to seek austerity measures to address budget constraints. With European Parliamentary elections and local elections expected this summer, both Germany and France have witnessed a wave of labor strikes and civil unrest. Thousands of protesters arrived in Berlin in December 2023 to protest the planned subsidy cuts to farmers, blocking roads and dumping manure on the streets. A proposal by the French government in 2023 to modify the pension plan led to some of the largest protests and riots seen in France in decades.

This summer in Europe also comes at a time of geopolitical shifts, uncertainty and instability. The U.S. election cycle always brings heated foreign policy rhetoric, and European relations are expected to be a major theme this year. From NATO and Ukrainian defense, to import taxes and trade agreements, these debates can drive cascading risk, particularly during large events where lone actors or organizations may perceive a platform opportunity to make a statement or air a grievance. The same can be said for the continued conflict in Gaza. Large refugee and immigrant communities in Europe have organized protests and marches related to the conflict. Any major change in the conflict or concerning news headlines of the humanitarian crisis can be expected to lead to civil action in Europe.

Implications for Risk Managers

What are the risks this summer in Europe? How should we think about preparing our teams for dynamic risks in Germany and France during these major events?

Socioeconomic Tension:

Civil protest and risks of incivility go hand in hand. It's noteworthy the level of civil protests we've observed in Germany and France in the past year. These socioeconomic issues have not been resolved, and major sporting events represent an international media audience. Groups will take advantage of this to make statements, draw attention to specific agendas or simply air grievances. This is also an opportunistic time to go on strike as the need for public services and goods will be strained. Other risks will come with a surge in visitors. Opportunistic crime is certainly a challenge including petty theft, scams and cyber pollution. There's also the daily risk of strained public services. Employees working in these cities may find it harder to commute, access basic services or receive timely medical care.

    • Consider offering work-from-home alternatives during major sporting events and provide employees with ample time for congested commutes and blocked routes.
    • Provide education and training on situational awareness and petty-crime prevention. Review cyber security best practices with employees and travelers.
    • Access real-time intelligence and reporting to track dynamic protests and civil unrest.


The terrorist attack in Moscow has brought the risk of terrorism at major events to the forefront of our conscious and that of government security apparatuses. France is considering changing the location of the Olympics opening ceremony due to concerns over the risk of terrorism – and is deploying 45,000 uniformed security personnel, including 16,000 military personnel and 2,000 foreign troops to secure the Olympics in Paris. However, it’s hard to assess with strong fidelity if the threat of terrorism will be especially elevated this summer. Extremism is more likely to impact employees this summer in other ways. In January 2024 tens of thousands of people protested the far right in cities across Germany, attending events with slogans such as "Never Again is Now," "Against Hate" and "Defend Democracy." Far-right movements will also protest and the rhetoric can be hostile and alarming for employees. In March 2024, Pro-Russian hacker group Anonymous Sudan was behind a series of politically motivated "distributed denial-of-service" attacks (DDoS), targeting the French government. The attacks themselves were not a breach of IT systems but did disrupt communications and services, causing many important digital services to be temporarily offline. It's this kind of infrastructure disruption during major sporting events that can impact travelers and in-country employees.

    • Review emergency scenarios and related communication plans with employees in cases of a major incident or threat.
    • Consider offering first aid and STOP THE BLEED® training. Map where the hospitals, urgent care centers and pharmacies are located, and recommend which medical facilities employees should go to first.
    • Ensure multi-modal emergency communications in case of downed infrastructure or major cyber-attacks.

Climate Risks:

Heatwaves, wildfire smoke and torrential rain all pose significant risk to life-safety, as well as disruption of services and the availability of public transit. The number of summers with severe heatwaves and unprecedented temperature records is increasing. In July 2022, a temperature of over 40 degrees Celsius was measured for the first time in the northern city Hamburg, Germany. The heatwaves put a particular strain on the population in large cities. In the hot summer of 2018, 42 hot days were recorded in Frankfurt am Main, while the national average was 20 hot days. The summer heat in Paris is especially concerning. Studies on mortality risks during heat waves found that Paris had the highest heat-related risk across all age groups compared to 854 other cities in Europe. Paris experiences what experts call an “urban heat island effect” that makes many parts of the city significantly hotter than surrounding areas. Further, Paris’s old, beautiful buildings are not designed for record temperatures and are inadequately cooled — or have no air conditioning at all.

    • Stage water near workspaces and encourage employees and travelers to hydrate frequently.
    • Only consider lodging that has adequate air conditioning and inspect alternative lodging and apartments for proper cooling during extreme temperatures.
    • Track alerting and information related to heatwaves, air quality and flash flooding.

The mission can feel daunting and the path forward unclear. If you’d like to continue this discussion, provide feedback or are looking for assistance, OnSolve is here to help.

(Information cut-off date 1000 PT, April 17, 2024)

Nick Hill

Nick Hill is Senior Analyst, Global Risk and Intelligence Services, where he drives intelligence analysis and services implementation to help customers mitigate dynamic risks and strengthen organizational resilience. Prior to his current role, Nick led product development and services implementation for a physical security provider leveraging AI to improve critical incident management. Nick is a former security manager overseeing travel risk management, risk intelligence, and global security operations, and previously served in the Marine Corps overseeing strategic intelligence analysis and production. For more real-time risk and resilience insights follow Nick on LinkedIn.