Written by LaShawn Encarnacion aka The Dark Knight of Sports
The Summer Olympics in Rio could be in trouble. On a recent edition of Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio, Mike Greenberg once again brought up a proposal of flying out the Olympic committee and their families to test out the open oceans, swimming in obviously contaminated and filthy waters for 30-minutes to prove that the water conditions are safe for Olympic competition in the upcoming summer games of 2016.
Brad Brooks of the Associated Press published early Wednesday morning, the AP’s latest testing found Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic waterways to be “as rife with pathogens far offshore as they are nearer land, where raw sewage flows into them from fetid rivers and storm drains. That means there is no dilution factor in the bay or lagoon where events will take place and no less risk to the health of athletes.”
An AP analysis of water quality revealed dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage in Olympic and Paralympic venues — results that alarmed international experts and dismayed competitors training in Rio, some of whom have already fallen ill with fevers, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Brooks added, “Experts said athletes were competing in the viral equivalent of raw sewage and exposure to dangerous health risks almost certain.”
These latest reports were based on several athletes exposure to disease and illness after exposure to bacteria in the open oceans during boating and rowing practice runs for the August Olympics.
Brooks in the AP report finishes the evaluation by stating, “that’s the standard used by nations around the globe, mostly because it’s been historically easier and cheaper.”
Brazilian officials however have a much more different perspective to this very controversial topic and its findings by the Associated Press and Brad Brooks. Brazilian, Olympic and World Health Organization officials stated “Brazil needs only to carry out testing for bacterial ‘markers’ of pollution to determine water quality.”
Stateside comparisons were also made to give this very important issue more clarity and life. Southern California marine biologist John Griffith provided his overall analysis of the conditions of the Rio lagoon.
“What you have there is basically raw sewage,” said John Griffith, a marine biologist at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. Griffith examined the protocols, methodology, and results of the AP tests.
“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,” he said, referring to the US. As a result, Olympic athletes are almost certain to come into contact with disease-causing viruses that in some tests measured up to 1.7 million times the level of what would be considered hazardous on a Southern California beach.”
Nearly 1,400 Olympic athletes will be sailing in the waters near Marina da Gloria in Guanabara Bay, swimming off Copacabana beach, and canoeing and rowing on the brackish waters of the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, all impacted by the raw sewage that comes from the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Other US marine biologist experts as well as doctors are concluding that there is a 99-percent chance for infection for anyone who enters these filthy water areas. This report according to Business Insider.
Ivan Bulaja, the Croatian-born coach of Austria’s 49er-class sailing team, has seen it firsthand. His sailors have lost valuable training days after falling ill with vomiting and diarrhea.
“This is by far the worst water quality we’ve ever seen in our sailing careers,” Bulaja said.
Training earlier this month in Guanabara Bay, Austrian sailor David Hussl said he and his teammates took precautions, washing their faces immediately with bottled water when they get splashed by waves and showering the minute they return to shore. And yet Hussl said he had fallen ill several times.
“I’ve had high temperatures and problems with my stomach,” he said. “It’s always one day completely in bed and then usually not sailing for two or three days.”
It is a huge risk for the athletes, the coach said.
For residents of Brazil, it does not seem as alarming as one doctor goes on record stating.
Dr. Alberto Chebabo, who heads Rio’s Infectious Diseases Society, said the raw sewage had led to “endemic” public-health woes among Brazilians, primarily infectious diarrhea in children.
By adolescence, he said, people in Rio have been so exposed to the viruses they build up antibodies. But foreign athletes and tourists will not have that protection.
“Somebody who hasn’t been exposed to this lack of sanitation and goes to a polluted beach obviously has a much higher risk of getting infected,” Chebabo said.
An estimated 60% of Brazilian adults have been exposed to hepatitis A, said Terra, the Rio hepatologist. Doctors urge foreigners heading to Rio, whether athletes or tourists, to be vaccinated against hepatitis A. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommend travelers to Brazil get vaccinated for typhoid.
When Rio won the bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games, it was under the agreement that the conditions of the water would be resolved. So the health and safety of the athletes from around the world would be preserved as would the honor of the games. This is not just about the people of Brazil … this event is about the people of the world and it falls on Brazil to protect these individuals. It is time to either own up and clean up the waters or move the Olympic Summer Games to another location that is deemed safe for competition.
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