The lead up to Rio Olympics has been littered with obstacles. Chaos normally surrounds any city preparing for the world’s largest sporting event, but the particularly perilous nature of the issues arising in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil seemingly dwarf every concern in recent olympic history. Any athlete participating in an outdoor aquatic event is taking a leap of faith wading into bacterial-laden waters.
Guanabara Bay, where the outdoor aquatic events take place, presents high levels of pollution that are a great cause of concern. One athlete revealed to the New York Times just how treacherous the water really is.
“We just have to keep our mouths closed when the water sprays up,” said Afrodite Zegers, 24, a member of the Dutch sailing team, which has been practicing in Guanabara Bay.
The Olympics are only a week away. The conditions can only improve so much in a short period of time. Brazil has been planning this event since 2009, but poor infrastructure and economic calamity pierced the country’s efforts to prepare Rio for its biggest event ever. Authorities claim the portions of Guanabara Bay that will be used for competition are ready to go, but one doctor begs to differ.
“Foreign athletes will literally be swimming in human crap, and they risk getting sick from all those microorganisms,” said Dr. Daniel Becker, a local pediatrician who works in poor neighborhoods. “It’s sad but also worrisome.”
On a more insignificant note, the contaminated water could alter the competition itself. Imagine an athlete who trained their entire life for this one olympic moment and all of that sacrifice coming to a screeching halt because of a few pieces of trash in the water. The Olympics are supposed to be a global celebration of competition, but disaster waits in the water.