Man at His Best

Turns Out Rio Won't Clean Its Terrifyingly Bad Water Before The 2016 Olympics

Oh, good.

BY MATT MILLER | Feb 19, 2016 | Fitness & Health

Image from Getty

The 48 rowers who head to Rio this year for the Summer Olympics will prep by getting hepatitis A vaccinations, Polio boosters, and the oral typhoid vaccine. Their oars will be bleached and their boats will be washed inside and out. Their gear will be cleaned at a high enough temperature to kill microbes, every minor cut will be meticulously treated to prevent infection from the bacteria and sewage-infested water around Rio. These precautions may seem extreme, but they are necessary, because although Rio promised to clean up its filthy water before the games, a new ESPN report shows that's not going to happen.

When Rio was first bidding for the 2016 Olympics way back in 2009, the city said it was committed to collecting and treating 80 percent of the sewage that had built up around beaches and docks over the decades. Though it was understood that the water would be cleaned, the AP reported in July of last year that there is a high percentage of pathogens still in the water, and "athletes were competing in the viral equivalent of raw sewage and exposure to dangerous health risks almost certain." By August, 13 rowers had fallen ill after trials in the dirty water around Rio. 

In December, after the AP reported that toxicity levels in the water were actually worse than anyone originally thought, the Olympic Committee again assured that it was cleaning Rio.

"The health and safety of athletes is always a top priority, and there is no doubt that water within the field of play meets the relevant standards," the Rio 2016 Olympic organising committee said in an emailed statement to the AP. "Rio 2016 follows the expert advice of the World Health Organisation, whose guidelines for Safe Recreational Water Environments recommend classifying water through a regular program of microbial water quality testing."

But now, the Olympics Committee has completely given up even pretending that it's going to do anything about the water. As ESPN reported:

"It's not going to happen because there was not enough commitment, funds and energy," Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada told Outside the Lines. "However, we finally got something that the bay has been missing for generations, which is public will for the cleaning. Nobody wants to have guests at their house and show a dirty house. So if we're not able to reach the target, we need to keep working until the last minute and make sure that the athletes can compete in safe waters, and we've been doing this."

And if that's not bad enough, there are also thousands of human rights violations linked to the 2016 Olympics.

First published in Esquire US.

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