News article

Seine water quality could be an issue for Paris 2024 Games  

April 11 2024

Paris 2024’s triathlon competition could be in jeopardy, should adverse weather conditions impact the water quality of the River Seine in the French capital. 

Seine water quality could be an issue for Paris 2024 Games  

Paris 2024 President, Tony Estanguet, said that triathlon events for the Olympic Games could be delayed, or the swimming leg even cancelled, if the weather impacts the water quality. He added that more than a billion euros had been invested to provide safe swimming in the River Seine for the first time in a century.

Potential downpours could make swimming in the Seine a difficulty however, as this can cause a rise in E. Coli levels.

Estanguet was discussing the matter at the SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit in the UK city of Birmingham this week.

As per The Guardian, Estanguet said: “We are working hard on it; you know it’s one of the bigger challenges.

“When we decided to have this competition in the Seine we knew it will be a big challenge but with the authorities, there is a big programme of investment and, when we talk about legacy, this project is fantastic.

“And we are still confident that the triathlon will be based in the Seine because we have contingency plans. We can postpone for rainy conditions. Because it’s programmed at the beginning of the Games we can wait for better conditions. So we are confident that it will be possible to use the Seine.”

The three-time Olympic gold medallist’s comments came after NGO (non-governmental organisation) Surfrider Foundation Europe found “alarming” bacteria levels in the Seine. The Foundation claimed that out of 14 samples taken over a six-month period by the laboratory Eau de Paris and environmental analysis group Analy-Co near to where the competition will be held, all but one showed poor water quality.

“And we are still confident that the triathlon will be based in the Seine because we have contingency plans." Paris 2024 President, Tony Estanguet

However, organisers said that the samples in the study were taken before the commissioning of major works to improve the water in the Seine.

The billion euros mentioned by Estanguet have been spent upgrading sewage and storm water treatment facilities in the region to improve the water quality of the Seine, and its main tributary the Marne, over the last 10 years. A new stormwater facility is expected to be completed later this month, while new sewage connections for river boats are still being built.

Estanguet continued: “We change the date and postpone from one day to three days until it’s okay. And there is a final decision where we could not swim – it’s part of the rules of the International Federation (World Triathlon). It’s what we want to avoid, of course.

“But there’s a risk. There’s always a risk. I was an athlete. I attended world championships that were postponed because of floods. When you are in a sport where you rely on the natural conditions, you have to adapt. It’s part of the flexibility in my sport.”

Image: Luca Dugaro on Unsplash

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