It’s almost time for the 2016 Summer Olympics, which is set to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Unfortunately, even before the games begin, the event has been plagued with controversies and concerns, most of which revolve around the city’s sanitation. The Rio Olympics conditions that have worried athletes and fans alike have so far included mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus, money laundering (including other major forms of crime) and, perhaps most importantly, the matter of the polluted waters. The Rio Olympics water problems stand to impact more athletes and tourists than anything else, and not just those that play water sports. Here’s more details on the Rio Olympics water quality and other Rio Olympics news.
Rio Olympics Water Problems
The Associated Press recently completed a 16-month study of the waterways in Rio de Janeiro and the results are terrifying, to say the least. According to their final results, the Rio Olympics water quality will be unbelievably unsafe. The study shows that the water there contains raw human sewage, which contains bacteria and viruses that could put anyone who ingests it at serious risk. The viruses are said to be able to cause illness in the stomach and/or respiratory system, as well as heart and brain inflammation in rare cases.
The first results of the test (published over a year ago) found the water to have levels of viruses 1.7 million times greater than what would cause concern in Europe or the United States. To put it into perspective: at such a high concentration, taking in just three teaspoons of the water would be enough to almost guarantee infection! After 16 months, almost 90% of the test sites used found similar results. Scary stuff!
As they had advance warning due to the initial results, athletes have been accounting for the Rio Olympics conditions by taking extreme precautions to avoid getting sick. The precautions include antibiotics (which will only halt the bacteria, not the viruses) and, in the case of those taking part in water sports, wearing a plastic suit and gloves to minimize contact with the polluted waters. Currently, 1,400 athletes are set to compete in aquatic competitions and will be at risk.
However, this is not a problem exclusive to competitors; the Associated Press noted that even tourists who hit the beach are at risk from the Rio Olympics’ water problems. While the Olympic swimmers will have no choice but to submerge themselves, fans have no need to and are therefore recommended that if they do have to get into any body of water, they should keep their head from being submerged to avoid any getting in the mouth—or worse, taking a big swallow. That said, the sand was also found to have high virus content and could also be dangerous (especially to infants and children).
Rio Olympics News
This piece of Rio Olympics news comes in spite of the country’s promise to clean up before the Olympics begin. Reportedly, most efforts to clean up the water were blocked for reasons pertaining to the country’s budget. Rio de Janeiro’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, claimed that at least 60% of the raw sewage found in the city’s water had been treated by March, but these statistics released by the Associated Press appear to indicate otherwise. That said, Paes has also acknowledged a failure to clean the city’s water. Perhaps this means that they actually did clean extensively and the Rio Olympics water problems are simply that bad. Meanwhile, officials for the Summer Olympics continue to state that the waterways will be safe for everyone. None of the above have commented yet on the Associated Press’ study.