French President Macron Promises to Swim in Seine River to Show Olympic Preparedness

Concerns have arisen as three test events in the Seine last year had to be scrapped due to high levels of E.Coli

French President Emmanuel Macron made a bold promise on Thursday, declaring his intention to take a swim in the Seine River to showcase its cleanliness ahead of the Paris Olympics.

Addressing reporters at the inauguration of the Olympic village in northern Paris, Macron flashed a smile as he stated, "I'll do it, but I won't give you the date. You all risk being there."


With the Olympics scheduled from July 26 to August 11, French authorities are scrambling to ensure the Seine's water quality meets standards for events like open-water swimming and the triathlon. They've invested a hefty 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion) to upgrade sewage and storm water treatment facilities in the Paris region, focusing on both the Seine and its main tributary, the Marne.

However, concerns have arisen as three test events in the Seine last year had to be scrapped due to high levels of E.Coli, a bacteria present in human waste. Furthermore, heavy rainfall leading up to the Olympics could potentially force event cancellations, organizers acknowledge.

In a recent mishap, a tourist boat collided with one of the bridges, causing structural damage that prompted the closure of a portion, though authorities are confident in their ability to repair it in time for the ceremony.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has also pledged to take a plunge in the river prior to the Games. Post-Olympics, the mayor's office plans to establish three public bathing areas along the Seine, marking the first time swimming in the river will be legal since its prohibition in 1923.

Macron emphasized the significance of this initiative, stating, "For people in the Paris region, we will have the Seine and Marne which will have changed in image and use," and labeling it as "an important legacy" of the Games.

During the Olympics, the Seine will be a focal point, with national sports teams slated to navigate down the historic waterway during an elaborate opening ceremony scheduled for July 26.