New Warnings of Health Hazards from Ocean Waters Near Rio Olympics

The Associated Press

With the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro only a few months away, new reports that the ocean waters and rivers around Brazil’s premier city are still hazardous to the health of sportsmen are being heard.

One of the biggest criticisms of having the Summer Olympics in Rio has been the quality of the water in the seas and lagoons surrounding the city. The very waters in which athletes will be competing have been horribly polluted in the past and tests seems to continue to show that things haven’t much improved since the games were awarded to the city.

A new report this month by Public Radio International does not do much to ally fears.

“Excuse my frankness, but the rivers feeding into the lagoons are pure sh–,” said area biologist Mario Moscatelli. The scientist added, “The feces of thousands of people emptied into the river without treatment” is everywhere.

New images of the beaches also show them covered in trash floating out from the rivers and the sea surrounding the city.

Though the games are months off, the polluted waters have already had real world consequences for sportsters. As PRI reports, a recent surfing competition had to be moved away from Rio because of the “slick of brown, smelly water flowing toward the contest site.”

In fact, a representative of the surfers reported that last year several of the competitors got sick from being in the water.

As surfer Ace Buchan told PRI, Rio’s waters are “undoubtedly the dirtiest water we surf in but it’s the only major city we compete in, too. Regardless, I think the water situation in Rio is dire.”

Worries over the health of Olympians headed to Rio are nothing new.

When the Olympics were announced for Rio, city officials claimed they would reduce water pollution by 80 percent before the games begin. But this month they had to admit that this goal could not be met.

Also, despite the pledge of officials the Associated Press recently reported that Rio’s Olympic waters are still badly polluted, even far offshore.

For well over a year countries and sports organizations have warned of the polluted waters. In December of last year, for instance, scientists began warning that a “super bacteria” threatened the health of competitors in water-based sports.

This year a new health scare is spurring some to call for the Olympics to be canceled.

With fears over the virulent Zika virus rolling across the Western Hemisphere, U.S. Olympics officials have hired a retinue of experts on infectious diseases to advise the committee for the upcoming games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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