Brazil is racing to clean up the alarmingly polluted bay that will host Olympic events in 12 months

Dead fish rio de janeiro 6Ricardo Moraes/ReutersRowers at the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon.

The 2016 Summer Olympics kick off in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in a little over a year, marking the first time the Games will be hosted by a South American nation.

Reports regarding the country’s preparation for the event, however, have not been great. In April, 2014, IOC vice-president John Coates called the preparation “the worst ever.” This April, the AP reported that the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, one of two central waterways to be used for sailing and rowing events, was plagued by a fish die-off.

It was at least the second fish-die off in 2015. The first occurred in February at Guanabara Bay — where other water events are schedule to take place.

A local photographer named Alex Moutinho told the AP, “Every year there are these die-offs, sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller. It’s one more Brazilian shame.”

With just over a year until the Opening Ceremonies, held at the famous Maracana stadium in Rio on August 5, the IOC head Thomas Bach said Wednesday that cleaning up Guanabara Bay will be the biggest challenge Rio 2016 faces in the final year of preparation for the Olympics. As of right now, sewage, debris, and dangerous bacteria are all commonplace in the bay. These massive fish die-offs are common occurrences, too, and likely the result of such heavy pollution.

Some athletes are demanding that the windsurfing and sailing events be moved to cleaner bodies of water, but Rio officials have denied this request and said that trash-collecting boats will protect the athletes. IOC officials, meanwhile, have acknowledged that although Guanabara Bay will not be completely pollution-free, they will be improved and safe enough for competition.

Thousands of twaite shad fish died in the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in Rio in April.

More fish in the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, where rowing events will take place.

Guanabara Bay will host sailing events at the 2016 Summer Olympics. A massive fish die-off occurred here in February, 2015.

The shores of Guanabara Bay are covered with trash, and the water is filled with dangerous bacteria and debris.

More pollution at the edge of Guanabara Bay.

Athletes want windsurfing and sailing events moved for their health and safety, but the IOC says there is no 'Plan B' for these locations.

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