In deep water? French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged he will take a dip in the Seine river in Paris. (Christian Liewig - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)


French President Macron promises to throw himself in river Seine


French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to jump in the river Seine as he officially inaugurated the 2024 Olympic village and praised the legacy the Games will leave to Paris, including a “swimmable” river.

The keys to the 52-hectare village just north of Paris along the Seine were officially handed to the Olympics organisers on February 29. It will host some 14,500 athletes and their staff before welcoming 9,000 for the Paralympics.

You bet I will,” Macron told reporters when asked if he would swim in the Seine, which the city has promised to make clean enough for bathing in by 2025.

“I will do it,” Macron said. “But I won’t give you the date, or you risk being there,” he quipped with a wink.

Paris has been working on cleaning up the Seine so people can swim in it again, as was the case during the 1900 Paris Olympics. But a sewer problem last summer led to the cancellation of a pre-Olympics swimming event.

Macron is not the first French politician to promise to dunk themselves in the river. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said she would do so more than three decades after her predecessor Jacques Chirac famously promised to do it “in the presence of witnesses” – but never did.

Macron’s pledge came as Nicolas Ferrand, the General Director of SOLIDEO, the company in charge of delivering the Olympics infrastructure, handed a symbolic key to the village to Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet, officially concluding a seven-year journey since the city was awarded the Games.

After the sporting extravaganza running from July 26 to August 11, the village will be turned into an eco-friendly neighbourhood. It is designed to benefit 6,000 residents and will feature two schools, a hotel, a public park, shops and offices plus planted areas for pedestrians and non-motorised vehicles.

“Our athletes will be able to experience the Games in the best conditions and you contributed to changing the lives of the people in the area,” Macron said.

He hailed France as a “nation of builders”.

“What has been done on time and within budget as we finalise the reconstruction of Notre Dame is nothing short of remarkable,” Macron added.

Notre-Dame is set to reopen for religious services and to the public on December 8 this year, the cathedral having been renovated after being ravaged by fire in 2019.