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Macron backs singer Aya Nakamura for Olympics opening ceremony

French singer Aya Nakamura arrives to appear in court for mutual abuses on partner with her former partner Vladimir Boudnikoff, in Bobigny, northeastern Paris, on January 26, 2023. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

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.

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