June 11, 2024

Central News

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‘Below acceptable standards’: Olympic open water test in Seine postponed

Paris Olympics 2024, face challenges organizers say.”

Days of rain in Paris have lead to concerns of possible sewage pollution in the river. The Seine will be the site of swimming events during next year’s Olympic Games, the Le Mondè reports

Aurélie Lemaire, a microbiology research intern, uses a reagent to test the Seine river water quality, Friday, August 4, 2023 in Paris.

A pre-Olympic open water swimming test event scheduled Saturday in the Seine has been pushed back a day because the water “currently remains below acceptable standards”, the French Swimming Federation (FFN) announced on Friday.

“The decision has been made, in consultation with public health authorities and event organising partners, to postpone the women’s race originally scheduled for August 5,” the FFN said in a statement.

“The quality of the water in the Seine currently remains below acceptable standards for safeguarding the health of swimmers.”

Initially, the women were to compete on Saturday and the men on Sunday. They will now compete successively Sunday at 7:30 am local time for women and at 11:30 am for men over a 10km loop between the Pont Alexandre III and the Pont de l’Alma, the same route as the 2024 Olympic event.

Persistent heavy rain in Paris had lead to concerns over pollution from the overflow of sewage.

Friday morning’s training session had already been cancelled, and organisers will again analyse water samples before Sunday’s competition.

“Water quality continues to be closely monitored,” the FFN said.

Unseasonal downpours have seen nearly 104mm of rain falling on the French capital in the last three weeks, sometimes in tropical storm mode.

“Following recent heavy rains in Paris, the quality of the water in the Seine is currently below acceptable standards for safeguarding the health of swimmers,” a FFN spokesperson said after deciding along with World Aquatics and French health authorities to scrap Friday’s practice.

Summer rains wash dirt from paths and roads into the water with the overflow of sewage causing bacterial pollution in particular from the potentially-deadly E.coli, which can also cause serious intestinal infections.

Based on 42 samples from June and July, French authorities had given the green light “in principle” for this weekend’s competition and the swimming leg of the triathlon from August 17-20.

On Friday, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s office insisted that “one year from the Games, the sanitation dynamic continues with the completion of the most significant work to improve water quality in the coming months, in particular to deal with these exceptional weather conditions”.

“The Paris region has suffered the heaviest summer rainfall recorded over the past 20 years,” it added.

The events are also a prelude to the future return of swimming in the Seine promised by Hidalgo from 2025 on three sites where swimming has been prohibited since 1923.