Some athletes in the Rio Olympic Games will be facing yet another health concern, according to the New York Times. Environmentalists and scientists believe that the water that marathon swimmers, windsurfers and sailors will be near is more contaminated than first expected.
"Foreign athletes will literally be swimming in human crap, and they risk getting sick from all those microorganisms," said Dr. Daniel Becker, a local pediatrician in Rio de Janeiro. "It’s sad but also worrisome."
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a nearby sewage plant pours into the area, and human and animal dead bodies can be found in the water. The bacteria may cause vomiting and diarrhea.
In photos, piles of waste, including wood, appliances and a beaten up couch, can be seen on shore. The government reportedly promised locals seven years ago that the Guanabara Bay would be cleaned up, but it hasn't happened.
Rio de Janeiro environmentalist Andrea Correa is aware of the problem. “Our biggest plague, our biggest environmental problem, is basic sanitation," she said in a statement, via the NYT. "The Olympics has woken people up to the problem."
"It’s disgusting," Nigel Cochrane, a coach for the Spanish women’s sailing team, added to the Times. "We’re very concerned."
Still, some athletes are prepared to take the plunge. "We just have to keep our mouths closed when the water sprays up," Dutch sailing team star Afrodite Zegers said.
The polluted water isn't the only controversy surrounding the big event. Many athletes have dropped out of the Olympics over concerns about the Zika virus. Last week, the Australian team also announced that they would not be staying in the Olympic village because of bad living conditions such as blocked toilets, dirty floors and no lighting. The Australian rep has since made nice with Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes.
The 2016 Rio Olympics begin on Friday, August 5.
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