The French Swimming Federation (FFN) has announced that a pre-Olympic open water swimming test event scheduled Saturday in the Seine has been pushed back a day because the water “currently remains below acceptable standards”.
In a statement, the FFN said “the decision has been made, in consultation with public health authorities and event organising partners, to postpone the women’s race originally scheduled for August 5”.
According to the statement, “the quality of the water in the Seine currently remains below acceptable standards for safeguarding the health of swimmers.”
The women were billed to compete on Saturday and the men on Sunday, but they will now compete successively Sunday at 7:30 am local time for women and at 11:30 am for men over a 10km loop between the Pont Alexandre III and the Pont de l’Alma, the same route as the 2024 Olympic event.
There has been concerns over pollution from the overflow of sewage, because of persistent heavy rain in Paris.
Friday morning’s training session had already been cancelled, and organisers will again analyse water samples before Sunday’s competition.
Unseasonal downpours have seen nearly 104mm of rain falling on the French capital in the last three weeks, sometimes in tropical storm mode.
Reports say summer rains have continued to wash dirt from paths and roads into the water with the overflow of sewage causing bacterial pollution in particular from the potentially-deadly E.coli, which could cause serious intestinal infections.
Based on 42 samples from June and July, French authorities had given the green light “in principle” for this weekend’s competition and the swimming leg of the triathlon from August 17-20.
On Friday, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s office insisted that “one year from the Games, the sanitation dynamic continues with the completion of the most significant work to improve water quality in the coming months, in particular to deal with these exceptional weather conditions”.
The events are also a prelude to the future return of swimming in the Seine promised by Hidalgo from 2025 on three sites where swimming has been prohibited since 1923.
For this Olympic event, organisers have long scheduled to be able to postpone by two or three days, in the event of storms and heavy rain, as pollution concerns is not new to Olympic Open Water Swimming
It would be recalled that at the end of the test event in 2019 ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, swimmers protested against the quality of the water in Tokyo Bay while at the Rio Olympics in 2016, the prospect of swimming in Guanabara Bay, also made headlines.
Source: Le Monde
hoto Credit: Barron’s