Will Seine River be ready for 2024 Olympics? U.S. swimmer calls organizers ‘irresponsible’ for contaminated water

Swimming in the Seine River has largely been prohibited since 1923 due to the unhealthy and unsafe water.

The 2024 Paris Olympics, though, want to revive the river as a swimming venue, with athletes competing in the waterway. Yet as the Olympics inch closer, U.S. swimmers are questioning its cleanliness.

Ivan Puskovitch earned his spot on the U.S. Olympics team for a long-distance race in open water. That race is still scheduled to take place in the Seine River, though there are doubts over whether the water will actually be ready for swimmers.

“Obviously, health and safety has to come first,” Puskovitch said. “It’s pretty disappointing that the Olympic organizers have really not locked in cleaning this venue up as far in advance as they should have, to the point where now the whole world is questioning whether it’s going to happen in time.”

The Olympic organizers have not listed a backup location, though they have given a backup date in case the river doesn’t meet health standards in time. Test results showed the river still contained high amounts of fecal bacteria, including 10 times the amount of acceptable E. coli, in late June, according to the Paris mayor’s office.

“That’s extremely irresponsible,” Puskovitch said. “I think that even if there’s a 1% chance that the race isn’t gonna be able to be held because of cleanliness or lack of cleanliness, you need to have a backup plan. It’s the Olympics.”

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Will the Seine River be ready for the Olympics?

The swimming events in the Seine River — the 10km freestyle and the swimming portion of the triathlon — are still scheduled to occur on their original dates.

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The Olympics begin on July 26, so there’s still time for organizers to clean the waterway to meet health standards.

The men’s triathlon is set for July 30, with the women’s triathlon coming a day later on July 31. The women’s 10km race is set for Aug. 8, while the men’s 10km race is scheduled for Aug. 9. 

There hasn’t been an official announcement as to whether the races will be delayed or switched to another location as of July 3.

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