Before the Rio Olympics began, I noted that scientists found dangerous drug-resistant “super bacteria” off beaches in Rio de Janeiro and in a lagoon where rowing and canoe athletes will compete. This is in addition to bodies, sewage, and other detritus floating off the coast of Brazil.
But Olymic officials said, “Let the Games begin”. Now, Rio’s contaminated waters have claimed their first victim.
A Belgian sailor who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics has become the first person to fall sick after racing on Rio’s polluted Guanabara Bay.
Evi Van Acker reported feeling sick after Wednesday’s races, the governing body World Sailing said. Her poor performances have put her at risk of missing out on a medal in the Laser Radial class.
…Van Acker was evaluated by the chief medical officer after her races Wednesday and evaluated further by the Belgian medical team that night, World Sailing spokesman Darryl Seibel said. Seibel added that this appears to be an isolated case and Van Acker is the only sailor who has reported feeling ill in the opening days of the regatta.
However, Van Acker vows to keep fighting.
— Evi Van Acker (@evivanacker) August 11, 2016
However, it isn’t only the natural bodies of water that are having problems. Rio’s Olympic pools are turning green.
The green water in the Rio Olympic diving pool isn’t turning blue quite yet. Oh and it smells now, too. https://t.co/NkhNvG9xjo
— WIRED (@WIRED) August 12, 2016
— KTVasser (@KTVasser) August 12, 2016
Rio’s local organizing committee spokesman offered this explanation:
Mario Andrada, chief spokesman for the local organizing committee, stressed that the pool was safe for competition, clearing the way for the preliminaries of women’s 3-meter springboard.
He conceded that some athletes had been bothered by the water, but said that was a result of efforts to clean the pool.
“We reiterate what we have been saying all along — the water does not offer any threat to the health of the athletes,” he said. “In the first day of this water situation, one or two athletes complained about their eyes being itchy. This was a result that the first reaction when we saw the water turning green was to use one of the chemicals — chlorine — that is very common in swimming pools. We reduced immediately the quantity. We retested the water and it was totally within the parameters.”
Andrada said officials were caught off guard by the pool’s deteriorating condition.
“Chemistry is not an exact science,” he said. “Some things, as you can see, went longer than expected.”
As a chemist, I assert that when properly done, chemistry is an exact science. But, I digress.
The condition of the pools is apparently the result of a series of mistakes.
“When we went to fix the green, there was a discussion about the best chemicals. We can’t use too much chemicals in the water because athletes are training in it,” Andrada said. “We certainly could have done better in the beginning to prevent the water from turning green. Once it turned green, we again made another bit of a mistake.”
Here’s to hoping our athletes remain healthy and safe for the remainder of the Olympics.
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