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Paris Olympics Ceremony Rehearsals Delayed Amid Seine Challenges

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Rehearsals for the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympics have been delayed due to strong currents in the Seine River. Ongoing efforts to clean up and prepare the river for the Games face challenges, including water quality concerns.

The highly-anticipated opening ceremony of the Paris Olympics, originally set for the end of July 2023, has encountered several logistical challenges. Initially planned to be a spectacular event along six kilometers of the Seine, the rehearsal scheduled for May 27 has now been postponed due to the river's strong current and recent flooding. This comes after another rehearsal in early April was also delayed owing to adverse weather conditions. According to the Prefecture of Île-de-France, the rescheduled date for the rehearsal remains undecided.

Organizers face the intricate task of ensuring the smooth coordination of around a hundred parade boats, follower boats, and camera setups by the Olympic Broadcasting System. This complex event has put a spotlight on the safety issues associated with the grand outdoor setup on a river, intending to host athletes and global dignitaries. Emmanuel Grégoire, first deputy mayor of Paris, remains optimistic, suggesting that the postponements allow for essential restoration work, including repairs to the historic Sully Bridge that was recently damaged.

In another significant development, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, along with Paris police chief Laurent Nuñez and regional prefect Marc Guillaume, plans to take a symbolic dive into the Seine on June 23. This act aims to underline the efforts made to clean up the river, which has seen investments totaling around 1.4 billion euros since 2016. This initiative hopes to convince the public of the river's improved condition and its safe usage for the upcoming Olympics.

The water quality of the Seine has remained a topic of concern. An NGO, Surfrider Foundation, reported alarming levels of bacteria, including Escherichia coli, in most of their recent samples. Authorities have criticized these findings for their biased sampling methods, noting that several cleanup projects are still ongoing, such as the significant Austerlitz storage basin.

  • The Olympic ministry and the organizing committee have assured that rehearsals will proceed whenever weather conditions are favorable, although no specific new date has been provided yet. The emphasis remains on tweaking necessary logistics to ensure the ceremony runs smoothly.
  • Emmanuel Macron, the French President, has also committed to swimming in the Seine before the Olympic Games, a promise reminiscent of a 1990 commitment by then-Mayor Jacques Chirac, which remained unfulfilled. The act is supposed to symbolize the revival and purification of the river.
  • Meanwhile, local authorities continue their efforts to make the river swimmable for both Olympic events and future public recreation. Plans are in place to open three safe bathing sites by 2025.
Daily Reports
Refs: | Le Parisien | Le Figaro |

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