Rio’s waterways of woe

The 2016 Olympics, you might recall Chicago’s bid for the Olympics only to be shunned in the first round; they’ll be taking place before we know it.  Unfortunately, Rio can’t seem to get the open water venues cleared of waste – including raw sewage.  Stories regarding the poor water quality of the Olympic venues have been around for some time and they seem to be getting worse.

The most horrific story I read focused on German sailor Erik Heil, who in August, competed in a test regatta in Rio and was later treated for several infections including MRSA, a flesh-eating bacteria.

“I have never in my life had infections on the legs. Never!” Heil said on the sailing team’s Olympic blog. “I assume I picked that up at the test regatta. The cause should be the Marina da Glória where there is a constant flow of waste water from the city’s hospitals.”

Back in April, the BBC reported that workers removed more the 33 tons of dead fish from the Olympic rowing and canoeing venue at Guanabara Bay.  During the August regatta in the very same bay, thirteen members of the U.S. Rowing team came down with serious cases of vomiting and diarrhea.  The team doctor blamed the polluted water.

A round of testing by The Associated Press shows the city’s Olympic waterways are as rife with pathogens far offshore as they are nearer land, where raw sewage flows into them from fetid rivers and storm drains.  Yet the International Olympic Committee has made no plans to push for venue changes.

Closer to home, high bacteria levels may close down Chicago beaches during the summer though I’ve never seen them as bad as what you see in the header image.  All within view of the stunning Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum.

ABC News has a terrific timeline highlighting the empty promises of Olympic and World Health Organization officials regarding the Rio’s waterways of woe.