The first 2016 Olympic sailing test event is being held in the polluted Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro.
An Australian coach is convinced that getting splashed by the dirty water gave him a rash on his ankle. Sailor health seems to be the main concern, from the AP:
“Health experts haves suggested that sailors be vaccinated for hepatitis A, and at a small regatta last year sailors rubbed alcohol on their hands after leaving the water.”
Mat Belcher, a 2012 gold medalist, told the Brazilian paper Folha de São Paulo (via AFP), “We found a lot of plastic bottles and bags. Yesterday we saw a dead dog in the water. If the Olympics were tomorrow, we would really have a problem.”
There’s a large clean-up effort underway with two years to go until the Olympics. Thirty-three tons of waste were removed from the bay in the first three months of 2014, the AP reports, and organisers believe they can reduce the amount of untreated sewage in the bay by 50%.
Health risks aside, a big worry is that large chunks of debris — sofas and other pieces of furniture have been seen in the bay — will disrupt the event. Organisers have sent out clean-ups boats (basically water trash trucks) to take care of these potential obstacles:
The conditions are worst at the shores of the bay. Australian sailor Nikolaus Resch told the AP that the bay smells like raw sewage at low tide.
The photos are jarring:
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