We have known for some time that the waters in and around Rio de Janeiro, Cidade Maravilhosa, are full of human shit. Sewage treatment in Rio is more the exception than the rule. For years now, Olympic organizers have been quietly worrying about how safe it is for athletes to compete in Rio's coastal waters, the location of a number of the 2016 Olympics' swimming and boating events. Nevertheless, the Olympic organizers have declared competition more-or-less safe.
The Associated Press begs to differ:
"An AP analysis of water quality revealed dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage in Olympic and Paralympic venues—results that alarmed international experts and dismayed competitors training in Rio, some of whom have already fallen ill with fevers, vomiting and diarrhea."
Well that's gross! But the AP's tests couldn't have been too far reaching, right? The Olympic organizers wouldn't plan events in toilet water… or would they?
The AP's test is "the first independent comprehensive testing for both viruses and bacteria at the Olympic sites."
Well, that's interesting. What did they find, exactly?
"Olympic athletes are almost certain to come into contact with disease-causing viruses that in some tests measured up to 1.7 million times the level of what would be considered hazardous on a Southern California beach."
Oh, shit! And SoCal's beaches are famously dirty. I remember as a kid, months would go by when we couldn't swim in them because there was so much poo. Why would anybody want to compete in sewage? Why don't they just compete in Rio's giant lake instead of the coast. That's surely safe. Right?
"The Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, which was largely cleaned up in recent years, was thought be safe for rowers and canoers. Yet AP tests found its waters to be among the most polluted for Olympic sites, with results ranging from 14 million adenoviruses per liter on the low end to 1.7 billion per liter at the high end.
"By comparison, water quality experts who monitor beaches in Southern California become alarmed if they see viral counts reaching 1,000 per liter."
I don't need to compete there to get sick; I'm feeling queasy just reading about it.
Read the rest of the AP's report here. It will turn your stomach.