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Macron backs singer Aya Nakamura for Olympics opening ceremony

French President Emmanuel Macron backed the idea on Thursday of Franco-Malian singer Aya Nakamura performing at the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympics following criticism from conservatives about the prospect.

“I think she is certainly suitable for the opening or closing ceremony of the Games,” he told reporters during a visit to inaugurate an Olympic aquatics centre in northern Paris, adding she was the most streamed francophone artist online. 

“If she’s part of the ceremony with other artists, I think it’s a good thing,” he added, saying the “Games and the ceremonies should resemble us. She is part of French culture and French music.”

Far-right politicians and other conservatives in France have rounded on the singer of “Djadja”, with anti-immigration leader Marine Le Pen taking aim at her “clothing, her vulgarity, the fact that she doesn’t sing in French.”

Macron said he backed the freedom of opening ceremony artistic director Thomas Jolly “to choose artists that represent France in its diversity, its influence, its arts and excellence.”

According to the Express magazine, Macron invited Nakamura to the presidential palace for a meeting in February and suggested she appear at the opening ceremony on July 26 which is set to take place along the river Seine.

Macron insisted Thursday the open-air boat parade along the waterway — the first time the summer Olympics have opened outside of the athletics stadium — remained the “favoured scenario” but contingency plans were being worked on.

An attack on a Moscow concert hall last month which left 140 people dead has revived fears for the Paris Games. 

“We need to have confidence in ourselves,” Macron told reporters. “Yes, there are risks, but there are risks in life and the best way to avoid risks is to do nothing. I dont think that’s the mission of the French nation.” 

Up to the final second “we will be determined, vigilant and at work. We’ll succeed and it will make the country proud.” he said.

With relations with Moscow growing more confrontational by the day and Russian athletes mostly banned from the Paris Games, he acknowledged that Vladimir Putin’s regime might try to target the event.

“I have no doubt, including in the information space,” he said. “It is feeding every day the idea that we can’t do this or that, that there’s a risk.”

The Olympics are set to take place from July 26-August 11 followed by the Paralympics from August 28-September 8.

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