Among Rio’s many issues heading into the Olympics is the sewage-infested waters.
With the Olympics kicking off this week, many of Rio’s bodies of water contain high levels of pollution, including areas with viruses akin to raw sewage.
Medical experts have advised athletes to keep their mouths shut and their heads above water while competing.
However, Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio, disagrees with the panic. In an interview with NBC’s Bob Costas, Paes said Rio has many problems, but few relate to the Olympics, and that the water conditions, in particular, have been exaggerated.
“This is like a drier season on the year,” Paes said. “Obviously, there’s too much exaggeration.”
Paes then pointed to an Associated Press report about a “super bacteria” growing in the water that he felt was overstated.
“Like, there was, the other day, a report by AP [that said], ‘OK, there’s a killing bacteria in the waters of the Copacabana Beach.’ We would be exterminated, the civilisation of Rio, if it was really a bacteria that kills people there because we go to the beach all the time. Every picture you see of Rio, you see people on the beach.
“So, there’s some exaggeration. We face problems with sewage, especially in Guanabara Bay, but not on the area where the competition’s being held. So, that’s the cleanest area of Guananabara Bay, it’s the entrance of Guanabara Bay. And we’ve had two test events on Guanabara Bay in the last years, both of the test events went well and worked properly.”
Obviously, Paes would not out his city or the conditions two days before the opening ceremony, so his comments shouldn’t come as a surprise.
But while several reports and studies have found Rio’s water to be highly contaminated, it is worth wondering if the conditions are as dire as they seem to be. If Rio is able to pull off the games without any major problems, the early fears about the state of the city will largely be forgotten.
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