Rio bay won't be clean for sailing: organizers

Tue Mar 24, 2015 5:47pm EDT
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By Andrew Downie

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian Olympic officials changed tack on Tuesday and said they would only clean up lanes for sailors in 2016 and not the whole body of water for the sailing competition as originally promised.

Rio de Janeiro pledged to reduce pollution in the notoriously fetid Guanabara Bay by 80 percent but officials have now confirmed that the target will not be reached.

"The area of competition for the Olympic Games will be ready," Carlos Nuzman, head of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, said at a press event to mark 500 days until the starting gun.

"Our obligation is to deliver the area for competing during the Games," he added.

His comments came 24 hours after the city's mayor expressed his disappointment at the broken promise.

"I think it is a lost opportunity, yes," Eduardo Paes told Sportv in an interview. "Not for the Olympics but for Rio, it's important to Rio. De-polluting the Guanabara Bay is something we should have done.

"It's a shame that the Olympics were not the reason or the motive, as in Sydney, to resolve the issue once and for all."

However, Paes said he did not believe the dirty waters would pose a risk for sailors.   Continued...

Rubbish covers the banks of Cunha channel, which flows into Guanabara Bay, in Rio de Janeiro March 20, 2015. The World Water Day is held on March 22.  REUTERS/Sergio Moraes