Floating mattress, cars, dead horses and human corpses in water that induces a painful red rash and vomiting are not the ideal conditions in which to conduct one of the world’s most prestigious sailing competitions.
So with less than a year to go until the summer Olympic games in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, the head of the international sailing governing body has threatened to move the maritime events if pollution levels cannot be controlled in Guanabara Bay.
Guanabara Bay promised to be a picturesque venue, but pollution concerns have still cast a shadow ©Getty Images pic.twitter.com/ANPWUtt7Cv— PAZ (@tortugadiaz) August 13, 2015
"If we can't get the water to a level, then we'll move it outside (to the Atlantic Ocean), for sure," said Peter Sowrey this weekend, ESPN reports.
Sowrey’s comments came as the Olympic test event ended on Saturday, with reports of competitors taking photos of raw sewage spilling into water spotted with floating rubbish.
Investigations from several media outlets as well as the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) over the leadup to the sports event have drawn attention to the dangerous state of the bay.
Human waste, dead animals, bacteria and viruses have been detected in the water, that have caused stomach cramps, diarrhea and red spots on sailors taking part in practise events. Another claimed that his boat was capsized after colliding with a sofa.
This is an embarrassing predicament for local organizers and the International Olympic Committee, who have repeatedly claimed that the water is safe, especially after reports that the the event could be moved from Guanabara Bay.
"If we can't get it clean, we've got to do something," said Sowrey. "Obviously, I don't sleep well. I worry about it a lot. We're all worried about it."
Speaking last month in response to a report by AP, Brazilian local organizers said that next year’s games presented a great opportunity to clean up the bay.
“We believe that we should not and will not give up on Guanabara Bay.One of the bigger legacies of these games will be the society pushing Brazilian authorities to clean the bay. So we have to hold on the pressure,” said Mario Andrada, a member of the Rio Olympic Organizing Committee.