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Paris mayor vows to swim in River Seine next week despite pollution concerns ahead of Olympics

By Julen Chavin, CNN

(CNN) — The mayor of Paris told French radio on Wednesday that she would swim in the city’s River Seine next week, in a bid to show its suitability for the Olympics despite ongoing cleanliness concerns.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo told France Inter radio that she would “dive in next week” and the water would be “depolluted, that’s for sure.”

Olympic athletes are set to swim in the river during the triathlon later this month and the marathon swimming in August.

However, despite a 1.4 billion Euro (1.5 billion USD) clean-up plan, concerns remain over the river’s suitability for swimming events. Tests last week for the first time showed acceptable bacteria levels, according to a statement by the mayor’s office.

Mayor Hidalgo – one of the main faces behind the organization of the Paris Olympics – had previously said she would swim in the Seine but postponed the dip following the dissolution of the National Assembly by French President Emmanuel Macron.

The Seine “was not the priority anymore” amid the snap election campaign, the mayor said. Macron, who also said he would swim in the Seine, has yet to announce a date.

Last month, the Paris region prefect, Marc Guillaume, told Franceinfo radio that the cleaning plan was taking longer than expected due to unusually heavy rainfall in the spring, but organizers remained confident that Olympic athletes would be able to swim in the river.

The Opening Ceremony of the Paris Olympics is set to take place on the Seine on July 26 if currents are not too strong. A recent rehearsal on June 24 was cancelled due to strong water flows caused by heavy rainfall.

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