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Although swimming in the Seine River in Paris (France) was banned in 1923, the sport is being used as a benchmark to point out the level of pollution in the water. Even if swimming is allowed, would the river be safe enough? A question that has been doing the rounds for decades.
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The 2024 Summer Olympics will be held in Paris, France. The organisers recently announced that they will replace the traditional stadium-based opening ceremony with an extravaganza to be held on the Seine River. According to media reports, boats filled with officials and athletes from more than 200 countries will sail for six km along the river between Pont d'Austerlitz and Pont d'Iena bridges in central Paris. According to records, during the 1900 Summer Olympics, which was also hosted in Paris, seven of the men’s swimming competitions were held in the Seine. The closing ceremony of Paris 2024 will be held at the Trocadero, located across the Seine from Eiffel Tower.
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Therefore, the announcement has buoyed the hopes of Parisians as well as visitors to the landmark European city that action will be taken to clean up the famous river, making it safe enough for swimming.
Some of the factors which have been responsible for the pollution of the Seine River include sewage mixed rainwater (often responsible for the harmful bacteria found in the water), industrial pollutants, illegal discharge of water from barges and boats, etc. While latest studies reveal that the intensity of pollution has decreased from previous highs, the water is still far from being ‘good enough for swimming’.
Among the various steps being taken to clean up the river is the creation of a huge underground storm water holding tank, which will prevent the sewage from discharging into the river when the city’s drains overflow owing to heavy rain. Besides, according to media reports, reed beds are being created to see if these will filter the rain water polluted by the roadways. Parisians expect civic bodies will implement other measures too to make the river good for holding the Olympic events. And if everything goes according to plan, Seine will once again be the clean river it was once.
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