Paris 2024 Summer Olympics swimmers warned about “alarming levels” of bacteria in the Seine river

Olympic swimmers are getting a warning to beware of the dangerous bacteria in the water of a river in Paris, France, where the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games water games are planned to be set.

The Surfrider Foundation Europe, a grassroots environmental water protection organization, performed 14 tests of the Seine River between September 2023 and March 2024 and found “alarming levels of bacteriological pollution.”

One sample was located near the Alexandra III bridge, which is a planned starting point for Olympic swimmers, and showed poor water quality and pollution.

“There are many causes for this pollution, ranging from rainfall to malfunctions in the sewage system, including poorly connected barges and animal waste,” the organization warned in a statement.

The foundation added, “The consequences of this pollution on health are serious, ranging from common infections such as otitis and conjunctivitis to more severe infections such as staphylococcus. It’s also an opportunity to reaffirm how precious health is in all circumstances, but especially when you are an athlete pursuing such a big dream: That of becoming an Olympic champion.”

Paris, France – September 17, 2022: Eiffel Tower by the Seine River in Paris at summer. France

The Seine is a 483-mile river in northern France, running along the Paris region and into the English Channel at Le Havre.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo claims they have made strides in cleaning up the river and spent close to $1.5 billion in upgrading stormwater treatment and sewage facilities.

In March, Mayor Hidalgo doubled down in vowing to swim in the river herself and invited French President Emmanuel Macron to join her in marking “this major breakthrough” in the river cleanup efforts.

The organization urged Olympic organizers to “take urgent action” to ensure safe and healthy conditions for the games.

“So, will Paris be the city of Olympic and Paralympic dreams or the city of health nightmares?” Surfrider Foundation Europe asked.

Former EPA official Steve Milloy remarked on social media, “Summer Olympics in Paris shaping up to be quite the green disaster: 1. No air conditioning in athlete dorms. 2. Swimming events to be held in sewer water.”


The Olympic Games have regularly made water quality as a top priority as a part of the infrastructure of the competition.

The international multi-sport event is scheduled to take place Friday, July 25 through August 11.

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