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Paris Marathon security ‘considerably strengthened’

Stéphane de Sakutin / AFP | Runners pass the Eiffel Tower during the 2015 Paris Marathon.

Sunday’s Paris Marathon is taking place amid “considerably strengthened” security following the November 13 terror attacks in the French capital.

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"Safety is a major concern today, and security is the responsibility of state authorities,” marathon director Edouard Cassignol told reporters on Tursday. "In recent weeks we have had regular meetings with the Prefecture of Police in Paris, and we can say that security has been considerably strengthened."

Some 57,000 people have signed up to take part in the marathon that crosses Paris from the western area of Bois de Boulogne to Bois de Vincennes in the east of the French capital.

The race will then continue through central Paris, finishing at the Arc de Triomphe. Many thousands of spectators are expected to line the route.

Paris, along with much of Europe, is already in a state of heightened security following two attacks by terrorist suicide bombers and gunmen in Paris in 2015.

Ongoing anti-terror operations in Belgium and France following the apprehension of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam in Brussels on March 18 have added to the challenge of keeping runners safe on Sunday.

The 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon, which killed three and injured 264, has also added concerns that terrorists would want to target the event.

But the organisers are confident that the Paris police authorities are up to the job, although they would not elaborate on the finer details.

"We can't say much more. We have a commitment not to disclose the details of the plans because confidentiality ensures full efficiency," said Cassignol.

"We will increase the number of security guards and bolster bag searches, both in terms of resources and materials, as staff will be equipped with metal detectors,” he added. "We will also have people who are trained to spot any abnormal behaviour, and we have briefed our 3,000 volunteers on being vigilant on the day."

Sunday’s event is the 40th Paris Marathon. It has only been cancelled once, in 1991, during the First Gulf War.

“There has never been any question of cancelling the event,” said Yann Le Moenner, director of the Amaury Sport Organisation that is running Sunday’s marathon. “Just like there was never any question of cancelling the Euro 2016 football [tournament] or the Tour de France.”

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