2016 Summer Olympics Watersports Venue Reportedly Highly Polluted Far Offshore

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2015

Women RSX (windsurf) world champion French Harline Picon (2nd-R) competes in the International Sailing Regatta held in the Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 19 August 2015, an event that serves as a test for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games                             AFP PHOTO/VANDERLEI ALMEIDA        (Photo credit should read VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/Getty Images

The world's best athletes will reportedly have to worry about more than just their elite competition during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

According to a report from Brad Brooks of the Associated Press published early Wednesday morning, the AP's latest testing found Rio de Janeiro's Olympic waterways to be "as rife with pathogens far offshore as they are nearer land, where raw sewage flows into them from fetid rivers and storm drains. That means there is no dilution factor in the bay or lagoon where events will take place and no less risk to the health of athletes."

The AP also reported on its initial round of tests in July, and "experts said athletes were competing in the viral equivalent of raw sewage and exposure to dangerous health risks almost certain."

Brooks' latest report noted that some athletes suffered illnesses after pre-Olympic rowing and sailing events in Rio in August. This most recent batch of tests shows "that the water is even more widely contaminated than previously known."

Considering the Olympics are less than a year away and Rio de Janeiro won the right to host the games partially due to a promise to clean the city's waterways, this is a concerning development. The report said "Brazilian officials now acknowledge that won't happen."

In light of the AP testing, Brazilian, Olympic and World Health Organization officials stated "Brazil needs only to carry out testing for bacterial 'markers' of pollution to determine water quality."

According to Brooks, "that's the standard used by nations around the globe, mostly because it's been historically easier and cheaper."

The Rio 2016 Olympic organizing committee released a statement Tuesday, via Brooks:

The health and safety of athletes is always a top priority and there is no doubt that water within the field of play meets the relevant standards. Rio 2016 follows the expert advice of the World Health Organization, whose guidelines for Safe Recreational Water Environments recommend classifying water through a regular program of microbial water quality testing.

Rio's waterways are contaminated "because most of the city's sewage is not treated, let alone collected," according to Brooks. That means it flows into Guanabara Bay, where some of the Olympic competitions will be held.

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