With an ambitious cleanup plan, Paris aims to host the 2024 Olympics events on the River Seine, symbolizing a sustainable future and climate change adaptation.
A century after the last Olympic Games in Paris, the French capital prepares to host the 2024 Olympics with a historical twist - the River Seine, central to Paris's identity, will take center stage.
The city has embarked on an ambitious, multi-year initiative known as the "Swimming Plan," aimed at rejuvenating the Seine. Once a playground for the Parisians of yesteryears, the river has long been off-limits due to pollution since 1923. However, the extensive efforts launched in 2018 are nearing completion, and the local government predicts the Seine will once again become a cherished public space post-Olympics.
The opening ceremony will unfold on the river, and several races will be held in its waters, with an expected audience of 600,000 spectators lining the banks. According to a statement from Paris City Hall, "The athletes at Paris 2024 will pioneer swimming in the Seine, igniting a renaissance of aquatic leisure."
Stricter regulations have been enforced on boat owners docked on the Seine, mandating a connection to Paris's wastewater network, thereby eliminating direct discharges into the water. Similarly, efforts are in progress to rectify citywide plumbing issues that were previously misdirecting wastewater into storm drains.
According to CNN, Preliminary analyses hint at a promising outcome. City hall reports "excellent results" in line with European standards, with Olympic event sites meeting these benchmarks 91% of the time from July to August 2022. As a result, open water swimming, para-triathlon, and triathlon events are now scheduled to happen near the iconic Alexandre III bridge.
The general public can anticipate regular access to the Seine from 2025, with three designated bathing sites: Bras Marie, Bras de Grenelle, and Bercy. In a statement, city hall described future swimming areas marked with buoys and equipped with changing rooms, showers, and storage spaces on the quayside. An additional 20 potential swimming locations in the Greater Paris region have been identified.
However, daily swimming in the Seine during summers cannot be guaranteed due to potential stormy weather or local water quality fluctuations, cautioned Londinsky.
While some Parisians remain skeptical about the river's transformation, Mayor Anne Hidalgo stands firm, underscoring the initiative's role in Paris's broader climate change adaptation strategy.
Hidalgo stated, "The Seine is a corridor of biodiversity and a source for cooling down in the summer," noting that the cleanup has resulted in an increase of fish species from two to over thirty in recent years. The revitalization of the Seine, she hopes, will not just be a symbolic return to the past but also a step towards a more sustainable future.
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