Rio 2016 organizers 'extremely concerned' over sick sailor

Sat Aug 29, 2015 11:27am EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - Organizers of the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics said on Saturday they were "extremely concerned" after German sailor Erik Heil fell ill following his third place at the test event there.

Heil, who is being treated in a Berlin hospital for several infections, said he was convinced they were caused by the polluted waters, piling more pressure on organizers to secure the safety of the athletes at next year's Olympic sailing, swimming and triathlon events.

"We were extremely concerned when we learned of the hospital admission of athlete Erik Heil," organizers said in a statement sent to Reuters. "We immediately contacted the German Sailing Association (DSV) for information.

"Rio 2016 is in contact with the DSV and reiterates that it is our priority to assure the health and well-being of all athletes."

Heil's case has been taken up by the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), which said it was escalating the matter to Rio organizers and the international sailing federation (ISAF).

The Brazilian city will be the first South American host of the summer Games and is struggling to clean up the waters in which athletes will compete.

"We are also following, together with the ISAF, the work developed by the (Rio) State Government so that measures... to improve the quality of the water in Guanabara Bay are completed on time, assuring good conditions for the competition lanes during the Rio 2016 Games," Games organizers said.

Heil, who won third place along with Thomas Ploessel in the 49er class last week, was told by the Berlin hospital treating him that he had been infected by multi-resistant germs.   Continued...

Rowers practice at Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 30, 2015.  REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes