PARIS: Paris’ river Seine was too dirty when tested on June 16 to allow the Olympic triathlon and open-water swimming events to be held there, an analysis showed on Friday.

“Samples from the Seine do not meet the standards we will have this summer” for the river when the Olympic Games are held from July 26 to August 11, Paris region prefect Marc Guillaume said.

A weekly report published by the Paris region and mayor’s office blamed unseasonal rainy weather for the high rates of two kinds of faecal bacteria including E. Coli in the waterway.

“Water quality remains degraded due to... rain, high flow, little sunshine [and] temperatures below seasonal norms,” it said.

Results posted online showed concentration of E. Coli was higher than the recommended limit in four locations of the river for practically all of the week of June 10 to 16.

The Seine is supposed to host both the Olympics opening ceremony as well as open-water events during the Games.

But Paris has been holding its breath hoping for the river to be clean enough.

In August last year, the swimming marathon test events were cancelled because the water was too dirty, as were the swimming legs on two of the four days of triathlon and para-triathlon tests.

If the river is too polluted when the Olympics kick off, the plan B is to postpone open-water swimming events for a few days — not to move them to a new location.

TERRORISM MAIN CONCERN

Also on Friday, the French capital’s chief of police Laurent Nunez said that Islamist terrorism is the main security worry ahead of the Olympics.

France is on its highest level of security alert as the Games approach, with the country additionally preparing for snap legislative elections at the end of June.

French authorities also rece­ntly foiled an attack on a sports stadium in another French city.

“Islamist terrorism remains our main concern,” Nunez told a press conference seven weeks before the Olympics opening ceremony, which will be held on and along the Seine on July 26.

“There is no clear-cut threat yet against the Games and our country but I’d like to remind you that at the end of May, two individuals were arrested in Saint-Etienne and were plotting a project aimed directly at the Olympic Games.

“The terrorist threat remains just as important as the protest threat posed by radical environmental groups, the ultra left and the pro-Palestinian movement,” Nunez said.

Last month, an 18-year-old Chechen man was arrested in the city of Saint-Etienne, suspected of planning an attack in the name of Islamic State at the city’s football stadium during the Olympics.—

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2024

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