Paris aims to clean up the Seine in time for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games
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Officials in France have set an ambitious goal of cleaning up the river to make it swimmable.
The 2024 Summer Olympic Games are going to be meaningful to Paris for reasons beyond the sport records that are certain to be set there. If the City of Lights has its way, it will have made the Seine, the primary river that meanders through the French capital, swimmable again.
The Seine was first declared biologically dead in the 1960s and has remained malodorous ever since.
There have been wastewater advances that have helped to improve the situation from what it was in the 1960s, but it remains far from safe for swimming. In fact, the sport has been banned in the river since 1923. Almost two out of every three French people think of the river in a negative light. It will be interesting to see if that changes by the time the 2024 Summer Olympic Games get started, as officials are hoping it will become swimmable again by then.
This will mean that the river will have returned to being swimmable for the first time since it was banned one hundred years earlier. French officials certainly seem hopeful regarding the return of the river’s beauty and reputation. When officials unveiled their ambitions for the games in Paris earlier in January, the Seine was discussed with reverence. It was referred to as a place of “unlimited possibilities,” while calling it “the most beautiful avenue of the capital.”
Based on the Parisian officials’ plans, cleaning up the Seine will be integral to the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.
This will start right at the beginning in the Opening Ceremonies. Instead of holding them in a stadium as is traditionally done, officials and athletes will be floating down the river on over 160 boats, from which they can wave to the estimated 600,000 spectators that are expected to occupy the adjacent stands and streets. Spectators will be watching along the stretch from the Austerlitz bridge to the Eiffel Tower.
In the weeks following the Opening Ceremonies, the goal is to ensure that it will be safe for athletes to also swim in the river down which they’d sailed at the start of the event. The river will, after all, be the venue for events such as the open water marathons and the triathlons. Moreover, after the 2024 Summer Olympic Games are over, the hope is that the river will be available to everyone who wants to swim there.
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