Water Conditions Worsen For Rio 2016 Athletes

Water conditions for athletes have been a concern for months leading up to the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil’s Guanabara Bay has been known to contain raw sewage, trash, and dangerous levels of bacteria that was guaranteed to make rowers and sailors competing in the Olympics very ill.

The Atlantic published the AP‘s independent study in March, which confirmed the gravest concerns about the safety and well being of competing athletes.

According to the AP, the water conditions in the bay was “almost certain to come into contact with disease-causing viruses that in some tests measured up to 1.7 million times the level of what would be considered hazardous on a Southern California beach.”

Not even the indoor pools are safe. Reuters reports that athletes have complained the water conditions at the Maria Lenk aquatic center has also become very concerning. The water turned green and foggy, causing coaches to pull their swimmers from the water for fear of adverse side effects.

Swimmers endure training pools with a high level of chemicals. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Olympics officials said the cause for the change was a “proliferation of algae” which occurs in Brazil’s hot and humid climate. To combat the algae and try to keep the pool clean and serviceable, technicians added more chemicals to the pool, including an overabundance of chlorine, which caused the green coloration.

FINA, which is the international governing body that protects athletes that participate in water events like swimming, diving, and water polo, made an official statement about the pool concerns. The officials said, “The green color in the diving pool comes down to the water tanks running out of some of the chemicals used in the water treatment process. As a result the pH level of the water was outside the usual range, causing the discoloration.”

Complaints from athletes and coaches alike have not gone unheard. After the U.S. men’s polo team defeated France on Wednesday night, team captain Tony Azevedo bemoaned the quality of the pool, stating, “What’s ridiculous is not the green water. I’ve played in plenty of pools with green water. The problem is they put way too much chlorine in,” Azevedo told reporters. “I could barely open my eyes for the final quarter.”

Water polo athletes complained about the conditions of the Olympic pool after their match.

This is just one of many problems that have been highlighted during the 2016 games in Rio. Considering the challenges that other host cities have faced, including the suffocating smog problem during the 2012 Beijing Olympics, Rio 2016 is not fairing well.

Gergo Zalanki of Hungary’s water polo team also delivered a stark rebuke of the facilities at the 2016 Olympics to Mashable. The athlete stated, “It feels like they added more chlorine to the water, but I’m not sure. I’m used to it because we have a lot of water like this in Hungary, but I think there might be something else wrong too.”

Issues with the pool facilities luckily stopped for Thursday’s events. However, the Olympic committee will have to maintain a high level of quality or risk continuous barbed complaints about the city and the events. Swimming and diving events are still scheduled to continue until Tuesday, August 16. At the rate of athlete satisfaction so far, Rio will have to make some serious changes in order to save the host city’s reputation.

Swimming events, which are held at a different pool than water polo events, luckily did not face the same problems.

The Olympic events aren’t even halfway over yet and they have been fraught with difficulties. Amidst water concerns, multiple athletes have reported being robbed at gunpoint, being concerned about bomb threats, and overall not feeling safe being in and around the Rio training facilities.

Empty stadiums, food shortages, and absent volunteers also plague the Rio Olympics. Although some of the criticism that the city has withstood seems unfounded now that the games have begun, it is an uphill battle both for organizers and athletes alike.

[Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images]