On Friday, August 4, 2023, in Paris, an intern in microbiology research named Aurelie Lemaire uses a reagent to test the water quality of the Seine River. Plans to see how ready Paris is for swimmers to race in the River Seine at next year’s Summer Olympics have been put on hold because of heavy rain. The international governing body of swimming said that swimmers who wanted to train in the river that runs through Paris on Friday had to change their plans because the water quality had dropped below acceptable levels. A staff member at Associated Press Christophe Ena
FRANCE — Heavy rains in Paris on Sunday caused a swimming event in the River Seine to be canceled. The event was supposed to be a test for the Summer Olympics next year, but organizers say the river will be better prepared for the 2024 Olympics.
The Open Water Swimming World Cup was canceled because “the water quality in the Seine has remained below acceptable standards for protecting swimmers’ health,” the French Swimming Federation (FFN) said in a statement on Sunday.
When it rains, sewage that hasn’t been treated flows into the Seine, lowering the water quality. The capital city of France is spending a lot of money on water management projects that officials say will make it less likely for storms to cause pollution.
Brigitte Legaré, in charge of sports for the Paris Olympics organization committee, said, “Unfortunately, when we tested the water this morning, 24 hours later, it was still slightly above the limits. We aren’t too far away.”
Husain al-Musallam, the president of World Aquatics, said that the organization is “disappointed” but that the health of the athletes must always come first.
“World Aquatics is still excited about the idea of the best open-water swimmers in the world racing in the city center at the Olympics next summer. But this weekend has shown that it is essential to have strong plans for what could go wrong,” he said in the statement.
The swimming part of the Olympic and Paralympic triathlons will be held in the Seine next summer, and the marathon swimming event will also be held there.
In a joint statement on Sunday, the city of Paris and the people who run the Olympics said that “in recent weeks, the water quality in the Seine has regularly reached the levels needed for competitions to be held on the dedicated site.” This shows that a lot of progress has been made.
They said that the water quality will be closely watched in the next few days so that triathletes can race in the Seine during a test event on August 17–20.
“By 2024, new infrastructure will be put in place to improve how rainwater is treated and improve the water,” they said.
One of these public works is a vast underground reservoir in Paris that will store stormwater so that it doesn’t have to be dumped into the river without being cleaned first and can be cleaned later.
Pierre Rabadan, in charge of sports for Paris, said, “We’re in an outdoor sport that depends on climate and weather, and that brings uncertainty. We’ll deal with all of these unknowns.”
“When the new water cleanup facilities are ready,” he said, “we’ll be able to control even rare events like the one we’re facing right now.”
The schedule for Olympic events in the river can also be changed next year if the water quality doesn’t let them happen on their original dates.
They said that the recent weather was “extraordinary” and that Paris had its heaviest summer rains since 1965.