As the countdown to the much-anticipated Olympic Games in Paris ticks away, the city finds itself in the midst of an unusual uproar. Parisians are no stranger to protest action. Last year, France saw numerous riots and standoffs over climate change, pension funds and the war in Gaza. However, this time, all eyes are on the River Seine. 

With millions of eyes set to turn toward France for the Olympics from 26 July to 11 August, you’d think Parisians would be breaking out the champagne in celebration. Mais non! Locals are rather miffed about the whole affair, and they’re showing it in a truly unique fashion: by threatening to unleash their fury in the form of faecal matter into the Seine River. In South African terms… Paris’s residents are planning to kak in the river.

The protest, aptly named Je Chie Dans La Seine Le 23 Juin (“I sh*t in the Seine on June 23”), has taken social media by storm. 

Now, you might wonder why on earth Parisians would resort to such drastic measures. Well, it seems the Olympics have rubbed some locals the wrong way. Reports of increased construction, rising metro prices, and heightened security measures have left a sour taste in the mouths of many. And let’s not forget the less-than-charming news of authorities shooing away the homeless and cracking down on sex workers in preparation for the Games. Sacré bleu, indeed. 

But it’s not just about sticking it to the man (or the Macron, in this case). There are genuine concerns about the cleanliness of the Seine, especially with Olympic events like swimming and triathlon set to take place in its waters. The River Seine is also set to be at the centre of the spectacular opening ceremony for the Olympics, featuring over 200 athletes’ delegations parading on more than 80 boats through central Paris.

The city has poured billions of euros into cleaning up the river, but experts worry it might not be enough to wash away the traces of human waste. Swimming in the Seine has been illegal since 1923, and while efforts have been made to clean it up, the question remains: is it safe enough for Olympic athletes to take the plunge?

President Emmanuel Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo have vowed to swim in the Seine before the Games as a show of confidence in its cleanliness. But with protesters poised to turn the river into a giant toilet bowl, one can’t help but wonder if they might want to invest in a hazmat suit instead of a swimsuit.