The pre-Olympics swimming test competition due to take place yesterday in the Seine in Paris was canceled due to pollution of the river, the international swimming federation said after analysis of the latest water samples.
Following recent heavy rainfall, “water quality in the Seine has remained below acceptable standards for safeguarding swimmers’ health,” World Aquatics said in a statement yesterday.
“Based on this weekend, it is clear that further work is needed with Paris 2024 and local authorities to ensure robust contingency plans are in place for next year,” it said.
Friday’s training had already been canceled and the women’s race was postponed from Saturday to yesterday in the hope the water quality would improve.
Heavy rains for the past week in Paris have caused sewers to overflow, polluting the Seine.
The federation said it “understands that further infrastructure projects will be completed to significantly improve water quality in the Seine in the lead-up to next year’s Olympic Games.”
The events are also a prelude to the return of swimming in the Seine promised by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo from 2025 on three sites where swimming has been prohibited since 1923. Olympic open water swimming has frequently been hit by pollution concerns.
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. At the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, the prospect of swimming in Guanabara Bay, also very polluted, also made headlines.
Separately, in Sunderland, England, at least 75 participants fell ill after competing in sea swimming events at the World Triathlon Championship Series, the Guardian reported on Saturday.
After a swim off Sunderland’s Roker beach last weekend, those who fell ill complained that they were sick and had diarrhea.
The paper reported that the UK Health Security Agency said it would test samples from those affected to establish the cause of the illnesses and any common pathogens.
Australian triathlete Jacob Birtwhistle posted on Instagram earlier this week that he felt unwell after the race.
“Have been feeling pretty rubbish since the race, but I guess that’s what happens when you swim in shit,” adding that he believed the swim should have been canceled.
The triathlon event in Sunderland served as the British leg of the World Triathlon Championship Series and coincided with the qualification period for the Paris Olympic Games.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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