World Triathlon says it remains confident that triathletes WILL be able to swim in the Seine at the Olympic Test Event in the French capital – despite a major blow this weekend for cleanup efforts in the famous river.
Late on Saturday, World Aquatics dropped a bombshell with the announcement they were cancelling the Open Water Swimming World Cup, planned for Paris this weekend. The reason given was water quality in the Seine dropping below acceptable standards due to recent heavy rainfall in the city.
Seine news sets alarm bells ringing
That of course set alarm bells ringing in triathlon circles, with the world’s best short-course stars due to plunge into the Seine between August 17 and 20 for their 2024 Olympic and Paralympic dress rehearsal.
World Triathlon though say the weather forecast for coming days gives them confidence that water quality will improve enough for the swim at the Test Event to go ahead. If it does not, races will switch to Duathlon format.
In a statement realised on Sunday, the governing body stated: “Prior to and even during the recent rainy period in Paris, water quality in the Seine has regularly achieved the levels required for healthy public swimming, demonstrating the progress that continues to be made. In early July, swimmers took to the Seine at the Bras Marie, one of the three Paris city-centre sites earmarked for public swimming facilities from 2025.
“For Paris 2024 and World Triathlon, the health and safety of athletes is our top priority. We will therefore, together with the relevant authorities, continue to carefully monitor water quality over the coming days, in the confident expectation – based on the current weather forecast – that elite athletes will compete in the Seine later this month, at the World Triathlon and Para Triathlon Test Event Paris scheduled for 17-20 August.
Duathlon fear if bad weather persists
“In the unlikely event that water quality does not meet the requirement of World Triathlon and public health authorities, a contingency plan is in place which would see the race(s) shifted to a duathlon format.
“With a year to go before the Games, the efforts to make the Seine swimmable, led by the State and the City of Paris, continue to significantly improve the quality of the water in the Seine.”
The individual elite races in Paris take place on Thursday August 17 (Women) and Friday August 18 (Men), with Paratriathlon taking centre stage on Saturday August 19 and Mixed Relay on Sunday August 20.
The Paris bombshell comes just days after the news that an investigation is under way after a number of athletes fell ill after competing at WTCS Sunderland. Australian star Jacob Birtwhistle was particularly vocal in his criticism – saying the swim should not have been allowed to go ahead.