River boats carry out successful Paris Olympics opening ceremony rehearsal

Onlookers in Paris were treated to a procession of 55 boats taking part in a rehearsal along the Seine River on Monday afternoon. Olympic officials are confident that the near four-hour opening ceremony will run like clockwork on 26 July.

A total of 55 boats made the journey from Pont d'Austerlitz, named after a French military victory in 1805, to Pont d'Iéna, a stone's throw from the Eiffel Tower, the nation's most striking and best known landmark.

"Six months ago we had like 10 minutes delay on the timing and today we are very close, almost to the second to our targets," Thierry Reboul, the executive director for ceremonies told journalists from the Associated Press agency.

"So it is very satisfying. We’ve respected an extremely precise level of timing."

On the day of the event, around 200 Olympic delegations will join the parade on more than 80 boats.

They will make the journey from east to west, along a six-kilometre route which has become a major talking point – for its audacity as a unique open-air event and for its exposure to potential danger.

High security

One tourist mistook the scene for something else.

"Maybe they are making a movie," said Driss El Kaoutari, a 42-year-old from Morocco who was on vacation in Paris with his daughter.

What people actually saw were empty vessels bobbing slowly by. But they will be full of life, colour, sound and movement next month.

"You will have many delegation members on the boats with their uniforms and their flags," Reboul said. "Around them there will be many other things, as you can imagine."

Water quality under scrutiny

(with AP)

Read more on RFI English

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