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Bravo to Boston! No Boston Olympic Games for 2024!

 
 
oralloy
 
  0  
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2016 07:25 pm
@tsarstepan,
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- The waterways being used for next summer's Olympics are more widely contaminated by sewage than previously known and pose a greater threat to the health of athletes, according to new tests commissioned by The Associated Press.

Expanded analysis of water bodies in Rio de Janeiro shows that high viral and in some cases bacterial counts are found not just along shorelines where raw sewage runs in, but far offshore where athletes will compete in sailing, rowing and canoeing.

That means there is no dilution factor in the bay or lagoon where events will take place.

"It's going to increase the exposure of the people who come into contact with those waters," said Kristina Mena, a U.S. expert in waterborne viruses. "If we saw those levels here in the United States on beaches, officials would likely close those beaches."

In July, the AP reported that its first round of tests showed viruses causing stomach and respiratory illnesses and more rarely heart and brain inflammation at levels up to 1.7 million times what would be considered highly alarming in the U.S. or Europe.

The report prompted sports officials to promise they would do their own viral testing. Those pledges took on further urgency in August, after pre-Olympic rowing and sailing events in Rio led to illnesses among athletes nearly double the acceptable limit in the U.S.

Nevertheless, Olympic and World Health Organization officials have flip-flopped on promises to carry out their own viral testing in the wake of the AP's July report.

At issue are two kinds of testing.

Brazilian, Olympic and WHO officials now say Brazil needs only to conduct testing for bacterial "markers" of pollution to determine water quality. That's the standard for nations around the globe to monitor waterbodies, mostly because it's been historically easier and cheaper.

However, in recent years technological advances have made it simpler and less expensive to monitor viral levels, too.

Studies dating back decades have shown little to no correlation between the levels of bacteria pathogens in water, which quickly break down in salty and sunny conditions like those in tropical Brazil, and the presence of viruses, which have been shown to last for months, and in some cases years.

Rio's waterways, like those of many developing nations, are extremely contaminated because most of the city's sewage is untreated, flowing into Guanabara Bay, the Rodrigo Freitas Lagoon and the famous Copacabana Beach.

Rio won the right to host the Olympics based on a lengthy bid document that promised to clean up the city's scenic waterways by improving sewage sanitation, a pledge that was intended to be one of the event's biggest legacies.

Brazilian officials now acknowledge that won't happen.

The AP's first published results were based on samples taken along the shores of the lagoon where rowing and canoeing events will be held. Other samples were drawn from the marina where sailors enter the water and in the Copacabana Beach surf, where marathon and triathlon swimming will take place. Ipanema Beach, popular with tourists and where many of the expected 350,000 foreign visitors will take a dip during the games, was also tested.

Since then, the AP expanded its testing to include offshore sampling sites inside Olympic sailing courses in Guanabara Bay and in the middle of the lagoon where rowing and canoeing lanes were located during recent test events.

Not only has the AP testing since August found the waterbodies to be consistently virus-laden throughout, but it also captured a spike in the bacterial fecal coliforms in the lagoon -- to over 16 times the amount permitted under Brazilian law.

Athletes have made efforts to avoid falling ill, from bleaching rowing oars to preemptively taking antibiotics, which have no effect on viruses, to simply hosing off their bodies the second they finish competing.

Despite that, athletes at test events in August still fell ill. The World Rowing Federation reported that 6.7 percent of 567 rowers got sick at a junior championship event in Rio. The International Sailing Federation said just over 7 percent of sailors competing at a mid-August Olympic warm-up event in Guanabara Bay fell ill.

By comparison, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's maximum illness rate for swimming is 3.6 percent -- which many experts say is too high.

Offshore water samples taken by the AP for the past three months were 30,000 times higher than what is considered alarming in the U.S. and Europe -- at a point 600 meters (yards) offshore and within the Sugarloaf sailing race course; at a spot 1,300 meters (yards) off the shore within the Naval School course; and at a point 200 meters from the shoreline in the Olympic lagoon where rowing lanes are located.

The high levels of sewage-linked pathogens found in the offshore sailing courses "show that ... there are many, many points where sewage enters the bay," said Brazilian virologist Fernando Spilki, coordinator of the environmental quality program at Feevale University in southern Brazil, who is conducting monthly tests for the AP.

"These pathogens we're looking for, especially the viruses, are able to migrate in the currents in a big way," he said.

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/c96284cf2724488b8194e99b9ba894d7/new-ap-test-rios-olympic-water-consistently-contaminated
oralloy
 
  0  
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2016 07:26 pm
@oralloy,
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- The former CEO of World Sailing says he was fired for pushing to get rid of polluted Guanabara Bay as the sailing venue of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Peter Sowrey tried to change the venue, or at least have a "B plan" but says "I was told to gag myself on the subject."

Andy Hunt took over just two weeks ago as the new CEO, and sailing is still scheduled to begin in August in the sewage-filled bay.

In interviews with The Associated Press, Sowrey and Hunt said the bay -- overlooked by the famous Christ the Redeemer monument and Sugarloaf Mountain behind it -- may give sailing the kind of television coverage it seldom enjoys.

It could also bring unwanted attention if sailors fall ill, or if floating rubbish -- plastic bags to door frames to animal carcasses -- fouls rudders and costs someone an Olympic gold medal.

Sowrey proposed moving the event to Buzios, a coastal resort about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from Rio that has been host to large sailing events. Of course, it's too late now for that change.

Sowrey, who left in December after only five months on the job, came to the governing body from the consulting company Accenture. He acknowledged he had little experience dealing with the politics that drive international sports federations. But he brought business acumen.

"The board felt I was way too aggressive," Sowrey said. "They basically voted me out. I didn't resign. The board finally told me to leave."

Sowrey said looking at Guanabara Bay on "fact-based, data-driven models we would never consider sailing in that quality of water."

Independent testing of Guanabara Bay conducted by the AP over the last year shows disease-causing viruses linked to human sewage at levels thousands of times above what would be considered alarming in the U.S. or Europe. The tests include the venue for sailing, but also Rio's Olympic venues for rowing, canoeing, open-water swimming and triathlon.

About 1,600 athletes will compete in these venues during the Olympics, which open on Aug. 5, and hundreds more during the subsequent Paralympics.

Experts say athletes will be competing in the viral equivalent of raw sewage with exposure to dangerous health risks almost certain. Many sailors have described the conditions as "sailing in a toilet" or an "open sewer."

Viruses like those in Guanabara Bay can cause stomach and respiratory ailments that could knock an athlete out of the Olympics.

When he first learned of the AP analysis, Sowrey supported the same kind of independent viral testing. But he was nudged to support the position adopted by the International Olympic Committee, the World Health Organization and local organizers; that the bacteria-only testing was sufficient.

"I was just stepping on toes," Sowrey said.

Like many of the 35 federations that participate in the Summer and Winter Olympics, World Sailing gets much of its income from the IOC. Sowrey and Hunt both said more than half of World Sailing's annual revenue was from that source.

World Sailing's executive board, which Sowrey said dismissed him, has two non-voting members -- King Harald V of Norway and Constantine, the former king of Greece -- and seven voting members. Some are former Olympians or former heads of national sailing federations.

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/04b3443464d740c89be9f63e3c1c7072/ex-head-sailing-body-says-fired-over-rios-polluted-venue
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Feb, 2016 10:32 am
@oralloy,
Not very Bostonian based news but okay.... Confused
0 Replies
 
 

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