Games organisers say progress made on Rio water concerns

Tue Mar 8, 2016 8:55pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif (Reuters) - Organisers of the Rio Olympics are confident they are in "good shape" to guarantee the health of competitors in the sailing events after taking several measures to cope with the polluted water of Guanabara Bay.

The cleaning of Guanabara Bay was a key part of Rio's bid pledge to host the Summer Games and has long been a goal of successive local governments.

Biologists in 2014 said rivers leading into the bay contained a superbacteria that is resistant to antibiotics and can cause urinary, gastrointestinal and pulmonary infections.

"We have tested the venue twice with more than 600 sailors so we know what needs to be done," Mario Andrada, communications director for Rio 2016, told Reuters during the United States Olympic Committee media summit on Tuesday.

"We need to fence the rivers so we don't have floating garbage into the bay. We need to keep the eco-boats oriented from above so they can spot the currents moving the floating garbage around so that the boats go there and take this garbage.

"And we are positioning the field of play, the regatta areas, on the outside of the bay, very close to the open ocean, so there is a strong current moving pollution and whatever away."

Additional measures have also been taken to reduced sewage and to purify the water, Andrada said.

"There is a new set of pipes around the Marina da Gloria so we are protecting that area from sewerage and from dirty water, he explained.   Continued...

Dead fish lie on the shore of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil January 13, 2016.   REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes