Sewage and Sailing compete at 2016 Olympic venue

Published on July 27th, 2014

The first of two ‘Test Events’ for the 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will be held August 3-9, 2014, with racing to take place inside and outside the Guanabara Bay.

The event will provide national teams with a sense of what to expect in two years, which for the Rio Games includes water pollution. Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes admitted last month that plans to clean up to 80 per cent of water across the entire Bay will now not be met.

Last November, it was revealed Guanabara Bay has 78-times Brazil’s legally allowed limit of fecal pollution, and 195-times the US limit, and, numerous figures from the sailing world claiming the venue is simply unfit for top-level competition.

Earlier this year International Sailing Federation (ISAF) head of competitions Alastair Fox admitted to insidethegames that holding the test event would be “difficult” as planned measures to deal with the pollution would not have come into operation.

But it has repeatedly been insisted the specific area of the Bay used for the competition will be safe, with the State Government, who are responsible for controlling pollution, having deployed 10 cleaning boats to collect garbage on the course.

Nico Delle Karth, a three-time Olympic sailor for Austria who finished fourth in the 49er class in London, said while the boats pick up garbage including plastic chairs and tables, they’re useless when it comes to reducing the fecal content in the water.

“When we trained here last December, the sea really smelled like a toilet,” remarked Karth.

A Rio 2016 spokesman has now told Bloomberg that, in the interests of transparency, they are inviting any team that wants to test the water to do so. The Rio state government have said the water will meet international sailing competition standards.

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