Paris Olympics Opening Ceremony Rehearsal Delayed Due To Seine River Pollution

The opening ceremony rehearsal for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games has been postponed due to pollution in the Seine River, which was set to host the triathlon and open-water swimming events. A recent monitoring report from the city of Paris highlighted that the river’s water quality remains unsuitable for these activities.

Routine water samples collected between June 10th and June 16th indicated high levels of E. coli bacteria, making the river unsafe for athletes. The men’s triathlon, scheduled to be the first event in the river on July 30th, faces uncertainty due to these findings.

Despite the city investing approximately $1.5 billion to upgrade its outdated sewage system, which often overflows during heavy rain, the water quality has not improved sufficiently. The recent heavy rainfall in May and continuing wet weather have exacerbated the pollution issue, preventing the river from reaching safe bacterial levels.

“The sun does inactivate the bacteria,” explained Helena Solo-Gabriele, a professor at the University of Miami specializing in chemical, environmental, and materials engineering. However, the lack of sunny days and consistent streamflow has hindered this natural purification process. Solo-Gabriele also warned that high levels of fecal matter in swimming waters could lead to gastrointestinal illnesses.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo have pledged to swim in the Seine to showcase its cleanliness, although they have yet to do so. This promise remains unfulfilled as the city grapples with the ongoing pollution problem.

The delay in the rehearsal raises concerns about the feasibility of hosting the triathlon and marathon swimming competitions in the Seine. Officials are working to address the water quality issues to ensure the safety of athletes and the success of the events. As the Olympics approach, the pressure mounts on the city to find a solution and deliver on its promises of a clean and safe Seine River for the 2024 Games.