Following in the grand tradition of pre-Olympic fuck-ups, the International Olympic Committee and 2016 Summer Olympics host city Rio de Janeiro have teamed up to bring us the summer games’ first big problem: shit water.
Rio’s waterways are notoriously sewage-laden, something that is obviously a concern for the athletes who will be competing in water sports in 2016. The IOC would have you believe that the water is just fine, though, because they’ve been testing the bacterial levels and have found everything to be relatively clean. They have not, however, been testing for viral pathogens, which according to an Associated Press investigation, is the real problem:
The AP viral testing, which will continue in the coming year, found not one water venue safe for swimming or boating, according to global water experts.
Instead, the test results found high counts of active and infectious human adenoviruses, which multiply in the intestinal and respiratory tracts of people. These are viruses that are known to cause respiratory and digestive illnesses, including explosive diarrhea and vomiting, but can also lead to more serious heart, brain and other diseases.
And yet, the IOC doesn’t feel that it is obligated to test the waters for viruses, simply because the World Health Organization’s official recommendation in such cases is to test for bacteria. The WHO did release a statement following the publication of the AP’s investigation in which testing for viruses was recommended, but later clarified that said recommendation was not an “official” stance. The IOC is simply parsing technicalities—who gives a shit what the “official” recommendation from WHO is?—in order to keep ignoring the fact that athletes will be swimming in shit. Here’s what Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi had to say about it:
“WHO is very clear that bacterial testing is what should be followed,” said Dubi. “They have restated that bacterial testing is the measure that has to be used and will continue to be used by the authorities. ... It is the best measure to be used.”
“We have also asked if with these measures and with this testing we can ensure the quality of the water for the athletes and preserving safety and the answer is yes,” he said.
Earlier this week, 13 American rowers who were competing in the World Rowing Junior Championships in Rio came down with severe stomach illnesses.