Jul 31, 2023
Organizers of the 2024 Paris Olympics will tell swimmers competing in Seine River events: Come on in, the water’s fine.
Many locals are already cringing at the thought.
“I wouldn’t swim in that water at gunpoint,” a longtime Paris resident, told CNN.
That’s because many believe the Seine is badly polluted. But not anymore, according to city officials. They insist it will be safe to swim in next year because of a $1.5 billion project. The project aims to cut bacteria levels by slowing runoff and raw sewage that pour into it.
After the Olympics, the city plans to open the river to all swimmers.
"When people see athletes swimming in the Seine with no health problems, they'll be confident themselves to start going back in the Seine," one of Paris’ deputy mayors told the BBC. The opening ceremonies for the Olympics will feature the Seine.
The city declared the Seine off-limits for swimming in 1923. That's because the pollution had become so bad that most fish species couldn’t survive. The city started its river rehabilitation “Swimming Plan" in 2018 to change that. Some fish species are coming back. And samples taken from the river in 2022 show that the water quality was good.
French athlete Thibaut Rigaudeau loves the plan. He is looking forward to swimming in his home river at the 2024 Games. “It’s going to change our lives,” he told The Associated Press.
Reflect: Imagine your city or town is hosting a big event like the Olympics. What are some things you would like to see improved or changed in your community to make it a better place for both visitors and residents during the event?
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