Macron promises to swim in the Seine (but doesn't say when)

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Macron promises to swim in the Seine (but doesn't say when)
France's President Emmanuel Macron visits the Paris 2024 Olympic village in Saint-Denis, northern Paris, on February 29, 2024. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron has promised that he will take a swim in the Seine as part of efforts to highlight how the river has been cleaned up for the Paris Olympics.


"I'll do it, but I won't give you the date. You all risk being there," Macron told reporters with a smile on Thursday as he attended a ceremony to inaugurate the Olympic village in northern Paris.

French authorities are in a race against time to improve the water quality of the Seine which is set to be used for open-water swimming and the triathlon during the July 26th-August 11th Olympics.

They have spent €1.4 billion upgrading sewage and storm water treatment facilities in the Paris region to improve the water quality of the Seine as well as its major tributary, the Marne.


But three test events in the Seine last year had to be cancelled because of elevated readings of E.Coli, a bacteria found in human waste, and heavy rainfall prior to the Olympics could result in the events being cancelled, organisers concede.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has also promised to take a dip in the river ahead of the Games, while her deputy Emmanuel Grégoire has already done so.

The mayor's office plans to create three public bathing areas on the river after the Olympics, making it legal to swim in the Seine for the first time since it was banned in 1923.

"For people in the Paris region, we will have the Seine and Marne which will have changed in image and use," Macron added, calling it "an important legacy" of the Games.

The Seine will play a central role during the Paris Olympics, with national sports teams set to sail down the historic waterway during a spectacular opening ceremony being planned for July 26th.

Organisers had a fright earlier this month when a tourist boat collided with one its bridges, causing structural damage that has led to part of it being closed to traffic.

"There's no risk of us being unable to strengthen the bridge before the ceremony," deputy mayor Pierre Ramadan told AFP earlier this week, referring to the Sully bridge near the Ile Saint-Louis.

Macron, 46, has previously played football, tennis and boxed in public and is hoping that the Olympics sparks an uptick in sporting activities across France.


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