Paris 2024 Olympics: The test swim in the Seine canceled due to pollution

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OLYMPIC GAMES The open water swimming competition scheduled in the river, in next summer's Olympic format, had to be canceled entirely on Sunday, the Seine being too polluted

Paris Olympics 2024: The swimming test event in the Seine canceled due to pollution

The Seine is too polluted to be able to host the open water swimming test competition in Olympic format — LAURENT CARON/SIPA

The organizers waited until the last minute to decide. It was 4 a.m. when the final meeting between the committee. of organization, the sports federations and the City of Paris, among others, have come to the conclusion that the Seine was too polluted for the open water swimming test competition, counting for the World Cup, to be held.

Since Thursday, the French Swimming Federation (FFN), together with World Aquatics (the international federation), has been pointing to a quality water “below acceptable standards” Sunday.

“Health, first priority”

World Aquatics said on Sunday “dedicated that the quality of of water leads to the cancellation of this World Cup but the health athletes must always be our first priority,” Husain Al-Musallam, its president, quoted as by the press release diffused Sunday morning.

In question: the persistent rains for more than a week, which cause the sewers to overflow, and bring the waste water back into the river. Result: Presence levels of Escherichia coli bacteria exceeding the limits. World Aquatics imposes a rate of less than 1000 CFU for 100 ml for this bacterium for the competition to take place.

The rainfall is “exceptional”, the committee has been repeating for four days. organization, the City of Paris, or the prefecture of the Ile-de-France region. The latter had nevertheless taken a decree. on July 27, based on 42 results of water analyzes from June and July, to authorize the competition in principle.

“Despite the improvements observed over the last three days, this quality remained slightly below the levels established by the health authorities; public and the World Aquatics serving to protect health swimmers,” for its part the committee organization of the Paris Olympics in a press release Sunday morning.

This specifies that “the quality” water will continue to be watched carefully, in the confident hope – based on the current weather forecast – that top athletes will be able to participate in the event. a competition in the Seine, during the Triathlon and Para Triathlon Test Event scheduled for August 17th to 20th”.

A new disappointment on this triathlon test which is held in ten days would be worrying for the organizers but also for the City of Paris whose mayor Anne Hidalgo promises future swimming in the Seine for 2025.

“Continue to work”

The rain scenario was feared; by all the players and several projects are underway to try to deal with this. this type of problem. Among the construction sites of the State and the communities for these bathings are in particular structures such as the Austerlitz basin, still under construction, which will make it possible to store rainwater (50,000 m3), and operate in&nbsp ;2024.

The international federation “understands that infrastructure projects will be completed and will bring a significant improvement to the environment. the quality water for next year”s Olympics,” said World Aquatics, who said they remain “excited” to the idea of ​​seeing swimmers take part in the race in the heart of the city.

But be careful, warned, in diplomatic language, World Aquatics: “we must continue to race; work with Paris 2024 and local authorities to ensure robust contingency plans are in place for next year”.

For now, the organizers have prepared We have seen for a long time to be able to postpone the tests by two or three days, in the event of storms and heavy rain. Maybe we should think about other plans B.