February 12, 2015 / 8:24 PM / 4 years ago

Rio governor relaxed over 2016 sailing sewage target

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The governor of Rio de Janeiro has said he will not be “frustrated” if the city fails to meet its clean-up target for the bay where Olympic sailing events will take place in time for 2016 Games.

The unnamed mascots of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games are pictured with the Copacabana beach in the background during their first appearance in Rio de Janeiro, November 23, 2014, in this handout courtesy of the Brazil Olympic Committee (COB) REUTERS/Alex Ferro/COB/Handout via Reuters

     Rio vowed to reduce the amount of raw sewage pumped into the picturesque Guanabara Bay by 80 percent, but Luiz Pezao said that goal may not be achieved by the time the Games kick off in August next year.

   “Of course I want it to be ready for the Olympics but what I want is a legacy for the population,” Pezao said at an event on Thursday.

“I won’t be frustrated (if we don’t attain it),” he said of the 80 percent goal.

    Pezao said the amount of sewage treated before being dumped into the bay had increased from 17 percent to 49 percent and that local authorities were working to reach the target figure.

The state’s leading environmental official, however, said last month that Rio will be unable to keep its promise.

The clean-up of Guanabara Bay was a key part of Rio’s bid and has long been a goal of various local governments.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been spent but the waters remain polluted.

Olympic sailors, who visited the city for test events, complained of floating sofas and animal carcasses in the water, described as a “sewer”.

Biologists last year said rivers leading into the bay contained a bacteria, resistant to antibiotics, that can cause urinary, gastrointestinal and pulmonary infections.

Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier in Rio de Janeiro; writing by Andrew Downie; editing by Toby Davis

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