With the Rio Summer Olympics just one year away and teams from across the globe ramping up their training, a recent AP report is suggesting that the host city’s water may be contaminated with human sewage.
“It’s certainly a concern for us,” USA Rowing Coach Luke McGee told Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday. “We’ve been in constant contact with the IOC and our federation, FISA, and they’ve assured us that they’ve done continuous testing up through the year.”
One of the Olympic sites, Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, has 1.7 billion adenoviruses, boasting a viral count that is 1.7 million times higher than what is considered hazardous at a Southern California beach, according to the AP. These adenoviruses can cause diarrhea and vomiting.
Guanabara Bay, which will host Olympic sailing and rowing in 2016, has similar levels of contamination.
“When the IOC awarded the Olympics [to Rio], they were well aware of this problem,” NBC News’ Anne Thompson said on msnbc Tuesday.
As part of Rio’s agreement with the IOC, the city pledged to remove 80% of the raw sewage flowing into Guanabara Bay in order to make the water safer for the games. “That hasn’t happened. It’s not going to happen,” Thompson said. Rio has been scrambling to clean up the sewage, but experts say they’ll have to act quickly if they want it done before the start of the games.
Brazilian officials have pushed back on criticism of the clean-up efforts, saying the water will be safe in time for the Summer Games.
Now, Olympians run the risk of falling ill. “You don’t want to have this outside component really affect the results for these guys, after so much hard work” Coach McGee said. “You can only hope, as a coach, that when you get down there, that doesn’t play into it.”