Water will be clean in time for Games: Rio 2016 chief

Tue Sep 1, 2015 1:46pm EDT
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By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - The water quality at the Olympic sailing venue in Rio de Janeiro is a serious issue but will be resolved by the time the Games begin next year, Rio Organising Committee president Carlos Nuzman said on Tuesday.

A scientific report carried out last month said the waters were so contaminated with high levels of bacteria and viruses from human sewage that athletes could become ill and unable to compete at the Games, the first to be held in South America.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has ordered testing for disease-causing viruses after taking advice from the World Health Organisation, while the International Sailing Federation has said it will carry out its own tests for viruses in Guanabara Bay where the sailing events will be held.

Nuzman began his media conference in central London by saying that improving the quality of the water at the Olympic venues was a key priority.

Last week, two international sailors, from South Korea and Germany, training in Rio contracted infections which they said came from the waters.

Asked if he could guarantee that no athlete would become ill because of the well-publicized contamination, Nuzman replied: "The health of the athletes is the No.1 point we are working on.

"We are working very closely with the State government and the researchers and I am sure we will have no claims (that the water is dirty) during the Games.

"I have no doubt we will have no problems with the sailing at Guanabara Bay. Other Olympic cities have had problems with the waters and fixed them in time and Rio will do the same.   Continued...

Olympics - Rio 2016 Press Conference - St Martins Lane Hotel, London - 1/9/15
President of the Organising Committee for Rio 2016, Carlos Nuzman during the press conference
Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs