Seine too polluted to host swimming events, a month ahead of Olympics

Less than a month before the start of the Olympics, the Seine is still too polluted to host swimming events as planned, according to the results of analysis published on Friday by Paris City Hall for the previous week.

“The quality of the water continues to deteriorate as a result of unfavourable hydrological conditions: rainfall, high flow, little sunshine, temperatures below seasonal norms and pollution from upstream,” the report says.

Regional prefect Marc Guillaume had warned that the river would be unsuitable for bathing at the beginning of July. “We expect things to improve this week, given the weather,” he told AFP. 

Concentrations of the two faecal bacteria on which swimming regulations are based rose sharply compared with the first two weeks of June, with very high peaks between 18 and 20 June.

These poor results have increased doubts about whether the triathlon and open water swimming events will be held in the river, and about the opening ceremony, which depends on the river flowing properly. A rehearsal of the ceremony, due to be held on Monday, has been postponed.


Staff set up grandstands on the banks of the Seine in preparation for the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympics © PHOTO VINCENT ISOREX

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