The health experts in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil have warned the Olympic marathon swimmers, windsurfers and sailors that while they are competing in the water they need to keep their mouths closed. All kinds of controversy has surrounded the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, and more negative news is the last thing the country needs at this time.
The Brazilian government promised seven years ago that they would get the Guanabara Bay waters into a suitable condition, but they have miserably failed in doing so, according to the New York Times. "Officials acknowledge that their efforts to treat raw sewage and scoop up household garbage have fallen far short."
Dr. Daniel Becker, a local pediatrician who works in poor neighborhoods stated, "Foreign athletes will literally be swimming in human crap, and they risk getting sick from all those microorganisms." He continued, "It's sad but also worrisome."
In many places the water is completely filthy, but according to the government officials and the International Olympic Committee, the areas where the swimmers are going to compete will meet the World Health Organization's safety standards.
Some Olympic officials have still conceded that Brazil's efforts have not addressed one of the most substantial issues: "Much of the sewage and trash produced by the region's 12 million inhabitants continues to flow untreated into Rio's waters."
Top environmental official in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Andrea Correa explains, "Our biggest plague, our biggest environmental problem, is basic sanitation. The Olympics has woken people up to the problem."
According to an investigation by the Associated Press, disease-causing viruses in some tests were 1.7 million times the level of what would be considered "hazardous" at a beach in Southern California.
"We just have to keep our mouths closed when the water sprays up," 24-year-old member of the Dutch sailing team, Afrodite Zegers.
Would you be willing to compete in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics in these conditions?