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Paris mayor boosts 2024 Olympic bid with plan to clean up Seine

Miguel Medina, AFP | Crewman collect garbage floating on the river Seine next to the Iena bridge, near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on August 10, 2010

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo upped the city’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics on Wednesday after proposing that the triathlon competition be held in the Seine, essentially promising to make the river clean enough to swim in.


“I propose that the triathlon competition – which is a major, magnificent competition – should take place in the Seine, at the foot of the Hotel de Ville [City Hall],” Hidalgo told France’s BFM television. “To make that happen, we must, of course, continue to work on the quality of water in Paris. We don’t yet have the water quality needed to allow people to swim.”

For some Parisians, Hidalgo’s comments smack of déjà vu. In 1988, then Paris mayor Jacques Chirac made a similar promise to clean up the Seine, even going so far as to say that he would go for a dip in it once it was free of debris.

Chirac never did take that swim, and even though the quality of the water in the Seine has improved over the years, it remains polluted. But Hidalgo insisted that she is prepared to see the proposal through.

“I will not make that kind of promise,” she said, in reference to Chirac. “The legacy of the games in Paris could be a major ecological legacy… and, moreover, our candidacy will be boosted by this proposition”.

“I hope that after the games, the ecological impact will be an impact that will make the water in the Seine swimmer-friendly,” she said.

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