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Bid Cities Racing to Clean Up Their Acts in Time for IOC Decision

8 Feb, 2017

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Following the complaints over the conditions of open-water venues in Rio, candidate cities for the 2024 Games are working at light speed to clean up their waterways.

According to an article in Inside The Games, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has pledged the Seine River in Central Paris would be clean enough to swim in by the year of the Games. And since the return of swimming to the Seine in central Paris is considered an important environmental legacy project of the French capital’s bid for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympics, this can’t be empty talk. 

A feasibility study, commissioned by Hidalgo and undertaken by town planning group l’Atelier parisien d’urbanisme (APUR), revealed its findings, identifying nine areas along the Seine in Paris that could host public swimming.

Several of these border proposed Paris 2024 venues, including the Grand Palais, Les Invalides, and the Eiffel Tower. In the coming months, the city intends to continue to work toward defining these swimming sites with approved locations to be confirmed by the end of Hidalgo’s current term in 2020. 

The pledge to return public swimming to the Seine forms part of a broader approach by Hidalgo to develop environmentally-friendly projects and initiatives.

"This project to bring public bathing back to the Seine illustrates the lasting legacy we want for all Parisians, which will be reinforced by the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games," Hidalgo said. "I believe that sport can be a real tool to transform the city of Paris, and the Olympic and Paralympic bid is already doing this.

With events such as open-water swimming, triathlon, sailing, kayaking and more being central parts of the Olympics, keeping waterways usable and healthy has become more of a concern than ever.

Los Angeles has been fighting its own battle to keep the water clean. According to information released by LA2024, L.A. has pledged to have “the greenest games in history.” Mayor Eric Garcetti made 2016 a historic year for clean energy in Los Angeles, including the overwhelming passage of transportation Measure M; new records in solar panel and electric vehicle charger installations; the “Clean Up/Green Up” ordinance, a novel law to protect communities at high risk from pollution; the launch of the Metro Bike Share Downtown Pilot; and the opening of the La Kretz Innovation Campus, home of L.A. Cleantech Incubator.

In addition, in November’s address last month to the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group in Mexico City, Garcetti committed L.A. to being among the first cities to pursue every possible strategy for doing its part to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C — the scientifically accepted threshold for a dangerous level of planetary warming — as laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement.

In Budapest, officials attended a Water Summit and notes indicate they have been looking at heating solutions as well as geothermal cooling using the River Danube that runs through the capital city for the future Olympic Park. Budapest 2024 head of sustainability and legacy, Zsombor  Barta, said: "The Olympic Games in 2024 in Budapest, with the River Danube at its heart, would help us to spread the sustainability message as widely as possible."

Personal sustainability advisor to the president of Hungary and member of the Budapest 2024 sustainability advisory board, Gábor Szucs, said, "There is a close symbiosis between the River Danube and the city of Budapest. Ensuring that we are at the forefront of ecological policy-making and technology is extremely important to us."

Overall, the IOC has encouraged environmentally-focused bids designed to adhere to green goals championed in the Agenda 2020 reforms.

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