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Sailing official threatens to move Rio Olympic events from polluted bay

Published on April 25th, 2015

(April 25, 2015) – Rio 2016 Olympic sailing events could be moved from Guanabara Bay if action isn’t quickly taken to clean the bay, an International Sailing Federation official said, according to The Associated Press.

Alastair Fox, head of competitions for the governing body, ISAF, said: “We’ve got quite frustrated with it all,” adding that Brazilian “politicians and the government must get going”.

“If we have to race all the races outside the bay, if that’s what it comes to, to ensure a fair regatta, then that’s something we’re going to explore and could do,” Fox said, “We are going to review the situation and make some more recommendations, demands is probably the right word, to make sure things are done.”

Fox suggested two sailing courses located just outside the bay in the open Atlantic, and a third being planned there, could be used for all races. Three other courses have been planned inside the bay but may not be used. In December, scientists said a “super bacteria” was discovered in Guanabara Bay, according to the AP.

In July, U.S. Olympic Sailing managing director Josh Adams said the unhealthy conditions of the bay had been “largely exaggerated for effect” by mainstream media, adding that the worst-case conditions of Guanabara Bay were in an area that won’t be used for Olympic competition.

Adams also said in July that US Sailing athletes took preventative measures before traveling to Rio for an Olympic test event in August, for a combination of the water conditions and general living in the Brazilian city.

“The bottom line is we’ve got to have a fair Olympics,” Fox said, “and make sure that our sailors are not at risk from health problems and there is fair racing.”

The enclosed bay is heavily polluted and has been described as an “open sewer” by Olympic sailors. The Rio state government promised to reduce the amount of raw sewage flowing into the bay by 80% but has since admitted that goal is unlikely to be met.

Last week officials in Rio revealed that 32 tons of dead fish have been cleared out of the lagoon where the Olympic rowing and canoeing events will take place next year.

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