The Seine will be at the center of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games – this is also evident from the splendid official posters designed by Ugo Gattoni – but, almost 100 days after the inauguration ceremony, the Parisian river is quite worrying.

After having done a sample collection campaign lasting six months, then go Surfrider Foundation warned of the “alarming” state of the waters of the Seine, where several races are scheduled.

On 14 measures carried out by the association between the end of September 2023 and the end of March 2024 between the Alexandre III bridge and the Alma bridge, where the triathlon and open water swimming events will take place, 13 of them were found to be “above or significantly above” the limits recommended for swimming.

According to the 2006 European directive and the tables of the swimming and triathlon federations, the concentrations of two bacteria indicative of fecal contamination, Escherichia coli and enterococci, they must not exceed 1,000 colony forming units (cfu)/100 ml for Escherichia coli and 400 cfu/100 ml for enterococci.

The analyzes carried out by Surfrider, in collaboration with the Eau de Paris laboratory (the same as the Municipality of Paris) and Analy-Co, “carried out randomly and according to a predefined schedule to avoid weather conditions (rain, sun, floods, etc.)”, have E.coli concentrations regularly exceeding 2,000 cfu/100 ml (maximum of 7,250 under the Alma bridge on February 7, 2024) and 500 cfu/100 ml for enterococci (maximum of 1,190 on February 7).

It must be said that the period analyzed so far does not fall within the limits provided for swimming in the Seine, which is reserved for the summer months.

However, other analyzes sent to the France Presse agency in early 2024 by Paris City Hall had already shown that between June and September 2023, none of the 14 sampling points Parisian waters had reached a sufficient level of quality with regard to European directives.

In front of these “alarming” results, Surfrider expresses its “growing concern about the water quality of the Seine” and highlights the “risks” for athletes, and not only, for the Parisian population, “to bathe in contaminated water. »

The association wrote an open letter asking access to competition venues “before and during” the Games, so you can continue collecting your samples.

The triathlon competitions (which will take place on July 30 and 31 and August 5) and open water swimming (August 8 and 9) are particularly at risk in the event of heavy rain, which would degrade the waters of the Seine by discharging wastewater mixed with rainwater into its bed.

At the beginning of August 2023, dress rehearsal for the open water swimming event was canceled due to obvious exceedance of water quality thresholds and high E values. Coli.

Last month, the Brazilian swimmer Ana Marcela Cunha, reigning Olympic champion in open water swimming, invited Paris to prepare a plan B in case the Seine is not ready. The organizers responded that they were able to delay swimming events in the event of heavy rain, but they have no intention of moving them.

It is not the first time that Olympic open water swimming faces pollution problems. At the end of the 2019 test event before the Tokyo Olympics, swimmers protested Tokyo Bay water quality. Also at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the polluted bay of Guanabara caused controversy due to the high level of pollution which endangered the health of athletes.

For demonstration purposes, Mayor Anne Hidalgothen followed by President Emmanuel Macron, announced that in the weeks leading up to the games they would dive into the capital's river.

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