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Paris Takes a Dive Into Transformation Ahead of the 2024 Olympics.
In a bid to transform the Seine River into a viable venue for Olympic swimming, the city of Paris has set in motion an ambitious project to construct a vast storage basin capable of holding 46,000 cubic meters of wastewater. This move, reported by Reuters, aims to curb pollution levels, offering athletes a chance to compete in the river during the highly anticipated 2024 Paris Olympics.
According to Benjamin Raigneau, the city’s director overseeing cleanliness and water management, the initiative to construct the basin has been under consideration for years. Raigneau highlighted the transition from a mere discussion to a solid commitment, emphasizing the aspiration to host Seine-based events during the Olympics and, beyond that, to reintroduce the tradition of swimming in the river for Parisians.
A pivotal aspect of this groundbreaking venture is the decision to hold the 2024 Olympics’ opening ceremony at the river’s edge. Traditionally confined to the host city’s Olympic stadium, this grand spectacle will draw an estimated 600,000 spectators, who will gather along the riverbanks, as revealed by organizers.
However, the Seine’s notorious pollution history, deeply rooted in the city’s sewer system, poses a significant challenge. Paris relies on a network of 1,500 miles of gravitational tunnels to channel sewage and stormwater runoff to treatment plants. Yet, during heavy rainfall, this system often buckles under pressure, leading to the discharge of excess water directly into the Seine, NPR reports.
The river’s state deteriorated to such an extent that swimming in it was officially prohibited back in 1923 due to rampant pollution. Over the past three decades, numerous politicians have pledged to restore the Seine’s swimmable status without tangible success.
Initiatives like the “Swimming Plan,” launched in 2018 with a staggering budget of 1.4 billion euros ($1.55 billion), aimed to make the river safe for swimming by the 2024 Olympics and sustain its cleanliness beyond, according to CNN.
Despite these efforts, the viability of swimming events during the 2024 Olympics hinges on the river’s water quality. If the water fails to meet safety standards by the upcoming summer, organizers remain open to the possibility of postponing competitions. The health of the water remains a critical factor, compelling a reevaluation of plans should it fall short of acceptable standards.
The construction of this storage basin represents a pivotal juncture in Paris’ ongoing battle against river pollution. As the city presses ahead with its transformative vision, the possibility of reclaiming the Seine as a viable venue for Olympic sports stands at the heart of its aspirations for the upcoming games.