The 2016 Olympians are at risk of illness due to the contaminated waters in Rio, the hosting city. An Associated Press investigation found Rio’s waters to be contaminated with human feces and that swimming and boating athletes could become ill to the point of vomiting, diarrhea, and/or being unable to compete.
Even though the government doesn’t test for viruses, Brazilian officials are assuring that the water will be safe for Olympic athletes. Most sewage in Brazil isn’t treated and water pollution is much too common.
Olympians are almost sure to contract an illness; the contamination levels tested to be up to 1.7 million times what would be hazardous in Southern California. The test results ranged from 14 million to 1.7 billion adenoviruses in one liter of water; in Southern California 1000 per liter is alarming.
The Olympic lake, Rodrigo de Freitas, has rotting fish in it due to the contamination. A marine biologist for Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, John Griffith, reviewed the tests and said, “What you have there is basically raw sewage." He went on to say,
“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.”
The AP’s tests did not find a single Olympic body of water suitable for swimming. The tests are to continue into the next year before the Olympics begin. The tests found viruses which are known to cause many illnesses including vomiting and diarrhea but progressively getting worse, leading to brain, heart, or other diseases.
Fernando Spilki, the scientist behind the AP tests, said, “the waters are chronically contaminated.
The quantity of fecal matter entering the waterbodies in Brazil is extremely high. Unfortunately, we have levels comparable to some African nations, to India.”
Austria’s sailing team has already become sick with illness due to the water. The coach, Ivan Bulaja, said, “This is by far the worst water quality we’ve ever seen in our sailing careers.”
I have to say, I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics, but this is one I just might pass on (as if tickets weren’t an issue!) Although, I am extremely curious to see what steps Brazilian officials will take to correct the matter before the event. But, since athletes are already there and training (and losing valuable days no less), is there really anything they can do? Hopefully, they can find a permanent solution to the waters in Rio and the waters around the world, for that matter.