Many people who have been to Rio de Janeiro (including myself) were surprised when the city was selected for the 2016 Olympics due to the rampant crime and pollution in the city. Now, as expected, experts are warning that efforts to curtail both are well behind schedule and could present dangers for athletes and visitors alike. The danger is most acute for athletes who will compete in the waters around the city. The average fecal pollution is 78 times about the permissible level of the Brazilian government. Currently, Coxless Pair may be breathless as well.
If you visit Rio, you will be astonished by the proximity of the slums to the tourist beaches just on the other side of the mountain. Roughly 70 percent of all sewage in Rio goes untreated and that untreated sewage is 195 times the level considered safe in the United States.
The problem is massive and the government has been slow in responding with the games approaching. With a 70 percent of untreated sewage in a major city, Rio has to bring the city into the modern age in only a couple of years. There are 6 million people in the city and seven out of ten have their waste discharged directly into the waters and environment.
Unless massive changes occur, rowers on Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas will be competing in waters with regular massive fish die offs and dangerous level of fecal pollution. Athletes faced the same type of dangers in China, which went through extraordinary measures to clean up waters. However, International Olympic Committee was widely criticized after China did little to curtail air pollution. It did not matter. The IOC has weathered bribery and corruption scandals with little evidence of reform. It followed up the Beijing games with the selection of an equally polluted Rio.
Notably, the Brazilian government has used Japanese money to clean up Rio’s Guanabara Bay, but the $700 million seems to have sunk beneath the pollution in the lake with little impact. Corruption is the most cited culprit.
It seems another example of dubious record of the IOC.