With question marks already surrounding the water quality in the River Seine before the Paris Olympic Test Event last week, there was an audible sigh of relief from the governing bodies and local organisers when both the men and women’s individual events were able to be held without restrictions on Thursday and Friday.
However, their relief was short lived, after what was described as a “significant discrepancy” between water samples in a test conducted on Saturday morning meant that the Paratriathlon events and subsequently the Mixed Team Relay were changed to the Duathlon format.
Whilst the water quality testing does come under the remit of Paris 24 and the City of Paris, global governing body World Triathlon provided further details on the matter to TRI247 after the event, revealing that whilst the swim cancellations on Saturday and Sunday were a precautionary measure, a further investigation is currently underway.
“Discrepancy between both test in Paris”
Shedding light on the situation that unfolded over the weekend, a spokesperson for World Triathlon revealed that the current focus of the investigation is to clarify the root cause of the issue and gather data that may well help the local organising committee deal with anymore issues that may arise.
“As explained, there was a discrepancy between both tests that were done in Paris and as precautionary measure, the Medical and Technical delegates decided to cancel the swim activities. Paris 24 and the City of Paris, who are in charge of the water quality at the Seine and all the water quality testing, have launched an investigation to clarify what happened and gather more information.”
Allaying concerns that the triathlon and paratriathlon events at the Games next summer will face similar problems because of the water quality, World Triathlon cited the work that is being done to treat rainwater and deal with wastewater in the city as proof that the issue was being dealt with proactively.
“The holding of this Test Event represented the return of swimming to the Seine, a first since the Paris 2012 Triathlon. Even though the swimming events were not able to be held during the last two days of competition, the ongoing work on wastewater management and the delivery of new infrastructure for the treatment of rainwater between now and the Olympic Games will mean that the water quality will be improved and, as a result, the events will be held as planned.”
Among the new infrastructure being built is the Austerlitz Reservoir, a storage basin that World Triathlon hopes will help the city deal with any unexpected rainfall during the Olympics. As well as infrastructure, there are contingency plans in place for a change in schedule, which would allow events to be re-scheduled for later in the Games to ensure the swim can go ahead.
“New infrastructure will include the Austerlitz Reservoir, an enormous storage basin 50m in diameter and more than 30m deep will allow for the storage of more than 50,000m cubed of water, equivalent to 20 Olympic pools. This reservoir will allow event organisers to be better prepared for exceptional weather events by preventing wastewater from being discharged into the Seine in the event of heavy rain.
“These new pieces of equipment and facilities, together with the contingency days that will offer greater latitude for organising competitions during the Games (the Games programme provides for the postponement of certain competitions that are subject to the vagaries of the weather, in order to offer the athletes the best possible conditions), mean that the Paris 2024 triathlon and paratriathlon events will be held under the best possible conditions.”