Rio Olympics: Putting Precautions In Place

Published on December 3rd, 2015

Canada’s sailing team will be packing economy-size bottles of hand sanitizer to this summer’s Rio Olympics.

Sail Canada’s executive director Paddy Boyd said the athletes will take every precaution to guard against getting sick from the polluted waters of Guanabara Bay, into which massive amounts of the city’s untreated sewage flows.

“I think ‘worried’ would be too strong a word,” Boyd said from his Ottawa office. “We’ve taken part in the test events in Rio for the last three years, so we had a full team down there in the test events. There’s nothing we can do at Sail Canada that’s going to change the event or move the venue or anything like that.

“Our view essentially is that we’re going to take part in the Olympics, and we have to take the appropriate precautions in regard to pollution. We’re comfortable that once we put the precautions in place, take the appropriate preparation, brief our athletes and look after our athletes in the appropriate way, that it’s not going to be an issue for Canadian sailors at the Games.”

Precautions include dousing oneself in hand sanitizer from head to toe, rinsing off with freshwater after coming ashore, making sure there are no open wounds, applying barrier cream and ensuring the boat and any other equipment is rinsed down and sanitized.

“So any potential for any lingering bugs are removed to the best of your ability,” Boyd said. “All your gear, all your clothing, yourself, your boat, etc., are constantly being cleaned, so you’re limiting any potential for infection.”

Boyd said no Canadians fell ill at the test events — at least from the water. One athlete came down with a stomach bug.

“The biggest danger we’re finding is where you eat rather than where you sail. A lot of the teams are finding that,” he said. “We do things like we restrict the restaurants, the food outlets that we use quite severely during competition.”

Cringe-worthy photos show the Rio water littered with debris, from television sets, to lawn furniture, toys and even a dead cat.

“Because of the relatively reduced level of control of what goes into the water, there are issues . . . where you might collide with something under the water. And that could have a serious impact on your competition, it could damage your boat, it could stop you in the midst of your race, etc.,” Boyd said. “So there’s that as well. But we believe the Brazilians are putting in, and we’ve seen it, they’re putting in quite a lot of effort to try to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

He added that, come competition time, boats — the Canadian sailing staff call them “Zambonis on water” — will essentially sweep the water.

Boyd said most of the Canadian team has been to Rio four or five times in preparation for the Games. The team will likely make one more familiarization trip before the Games open Aug. 5.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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