Olympic officials preparing for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, Brazil may have a bit of a mess on their hands. According to reports, the bodies of water that will be used for swimming, boating, and rowing have tested at dangerously high levels of viruses and fecal matter.
“What you have there is basically raw sewage,” said John Griffith, a marine biologist at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. Griffith examined the protocols, methodology and results of tests conducted by the AP.
“It’s all the water from the toilets and the showers and whatever people put down their sinks, all mixed up, and it’s going out into the beach waters. Those kinds of things would be shut down immediately if found here,” he said, referring to the U.S.
According to the AP’s findings, the water that was tested had 1.7 million times the level of viruses that a California beach would consider hazardous. One expert estimated that athletes would have a 99 percent chance of developing an infection if they ingest only three teaspoons of it.
Residents of Rio have built up antibodies to fight off the bacteria and viruses present in their water. However, foreign athletes who will be there for the first time will not be as lucky. In fact, some athletes who are already in town in advance of next year’s games to get some practice time in have already found that out.
“This is by far the worst water quality we’ve ever seen in our sailing careers,” said Ivan Bulaja, coach of Austria’s sailing team. He indicated that members of his team have been battling illnesses since their arrival, with symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea. Another coach said he’s been getting sick with high fevers and stomach issues every two or three days.
Good start, Rio. On the plus side, some people theorize that swimming in sewage could be good for your back.
(via Associated Press)