Progress, yes, but the Brazilian way

Published on August 4th, 2014

As Dorothy would say, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” That’s the theme in Rio, which in two year’s time will host the Summer Olympics. Brazil marches to the beat of its own drum. Or should we say dances?

As a sailing coach described, who is in Rio for the Test Event this week, “I am hopeful there won’t be a live band playing again below my hotel window this evening.”

The contrast between Brazil and Great Britain, host of the 2012 Games, is startling. Whereas the British were fully prepared at the two year mark, the Brazilians are just getting started.

“We’re not maybe, probably as precise as London,” said Ricardo Prado, who heads the Sport Advisory Committee for Rio 2016. “I guess when we say yes, we don’t always really mean yes, which is a scary thing to say here. But I’m very confident we’re going to excel. We’re going to do it the Brazilian way, which hopefully will be a little more fun.”

So far the Brazilian way has been the focus of unflattering news reports regarding its environmental carelessness. When it won the right to host the games back in 2009, Rio promised it would treat 80 percent of the sewage water flowing into the bay by the time the games start in August 2016.

That’s not going happen, but as Prado notes, yes doesn’t always mean yes.

However, as yachting photographer Juerg Kaufmann reports from Rio, he is optimistic that progress is being made…

The water is still dirty, and smells bad in some places, but with the current, most of the time it’s not so bad on the inner course on Guanabara Bay near the bridge. There are still a lot of plastic bags and others items floating around, which I think is the major risk at the moment for the sailors during the race.

Looking back four years ago when the 2010 Star World Championship was in Rio, the water has improved a lot. I remember shooting on the course where the 2016 Olympic medal race will be, and not being able to use any of the photo as the water color was between brown and black. But now it’s different; it’s better.

We can complain about the water quality, but we are probably experiencing a massive ecological change project. While being an outsider, it’s difficult to predict what will happen by 2016, but the Chinese managed to solve the algae problem on the 2008 Olympic sailing course, and I am hopeful the Brazilians will manage to solve their water management as well.

Click here to learn about the Guanabara Bay Depollution Program.

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