Tropical disease threat for sailors
Polluted Guanabara Bay alarms 2016 Rio Olympics’ sailing organisers before dress rehearsal
Rio De Janerio: A tropical disease specialist will monitor sailors competing in Rio’s polluted waters ahead of the 2016 Olympics, a top official said on Friday, adding he was also worried about boats hitting garbage.
Two girls enjoy being on Flamengo beach despite is not suited for swimming due to polluted waters in Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on December 16, 2014. PIC/AFP
Top sailors from around the world began a dress rehearsal on Saturday for next year’s Olympics in the scenic but filthy waters of Guanabara Bay in the heart of Rio de Janeiro. But preparations for the August 15-22 test event, as well as the 2016 Games themselves, have been overshadowed by potential health risks from raw sewage and debris.
Despite repeated assurances from Brazilian authorities that the bay is safe, Alistair Fox, head of events with the International Sailing Federation, said the sport’s governing body is taking the problem seriously. “We’ve specifically appointed a member of our medical mission, a trained doctor in tropical medicine to be here,” he said at the Rio harbour where Olympic sailing is based.
“The other area obviously we’re very concerned about is objects in the water that could affect the fairness of racing,” he said. A sailing federation official will be monitoring the water with clean-up boats and from a helicopter every day of the test event, he said.
“We need to be able to make the right decisions.” Fox said there was “a lot of pressure on the (Rio) government” to do more about the pollution, “which is good.”