Health Experts Warn Olympic Athletes

July 28th 2016

Taylor Bell

Even though the Summer Olympics are less than two weeks away, the city of Rio de Janeiro seems more unprepared than ever.

Health officials have warned athletes who compete in some aquatic sports that they need to keep their mouths closed due to the unresolved contamination in the city's waters, The New York Times reports.  

Olympic marathon swimmers, sailors and wind surfers have been advised to beware of Rio de Janeiro's waters, which scientists claim are home to a "petri dish of pathogens," according to the Times.

Researchers recently discovered the waters contain everything from "rotaviruses that can cause diarrhea and vomiting to potentially fatal drug-resistant 'superbacteria,'" according to Yahoo.

Guanabara Bay, the venue for sailing during the Olympics, continues to spew hundreds of raw sewage and trash, The Guardian reports. 

“Foreign athletes will literally be swimming in human crap, and they risk getting sick from all those microorganisms,” local pediatrician Dr. Daniel Becker told the Times. “It’s sad but also worrisome.”

Plans to correct the water contamination were put in place back in 2009 when Brazil made its bid to host the Olympic Games. In their bid, Brazil stated the games "would actually help the city, and country, combat the pollution issue and that 80 percent of the sewage plaguing the local bodies of water would be treated by 2016," according to the Washington Post.


A photo posted by Rio 2016 (@rio2016) on

But efforts to resolve Brazil's water contamination problem have not been that successful according to the Daily Mail.

The water contamination has got many athletes worried.

Earlier this month, some Finnish sailors complained that a weird substance in the Guanabara Bay had turned their boats from white to brown.

“We’ve never seen anything like this. It was all over the place,” Finnish sailor Camilla Cedercreutz told Associated Press. “There was no way you could avoid it.”

Then in May, U.S. Rower Meghan O'Leary told The Courant that she was going to take extra caution at the games.

"[The water quality] is a real concern. We're going to have to be very disciplined about how we're taking care of ourselves. Don't touch our face if we touch the water. Covering our water bottles with plastic bags. We get splashed a lot. I sit in bow. It's going to happen. We're just going to try to control everything we can."

This news comes just days after Australian athletes complained that the living conditions at the Olympic Village in Rio were "uninhabitable."

Rio's struggles highlight a bigger issue with the economic promises made by Olympic host cities.

Although the games is often sold as a way to help positively boost a nation economically, they only seem to expose and magnify a country's problems. 


A photo posted by Rio 2016 (@rio2016) on

“For the politicians, the Olympics can be great," academic at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation Sérgio Praça told the Guardian. "But for the population in general, these mega-events like the World Cup and the Olympics are bad. It moves people from their homes, triggers a lot of public investments that aren’t necessary. We have empty stadiums that aren’t being used from the World Cup...These aren’t events for the Brazilian population – the price is too high.”

As The Guardian reported in April, Brazil's unemployment remains high, inflation is on the rise, fear of the Zika virus keeps tourists at bay, and pollution remains an on-going problem.