Water Quality at the Rio Olympics
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In Rio de Janeiro, Olympic athletes competing in water sports were worried about their safety due to the unclean status of the water in the country’s highly populated capital. Athletes took wise, but minor precautions to protect themselves from the highly toxic water.
According to the New York Times, athletes competing in outdoor water sports have experienced sickness after brief skin contact with the contaminated ocean. Journalist Yukai Du speculates that marathon swimmers and triathletes may experience greater symptoms due to their prolonged contact with the water or possible ingestion.
Lisa Porterfield, a health professional in Blacksburg explains the problems facing swimmers. “There are a lot of bacteria living in the contaminated water. They can enter through your nose and infect your brain and make you ill.”
The green diving pool at Rio caused the athletes further distress. Some were skeptical about swimming in that “gross” water. The Los Angeles Times states that the green water in the pools was caused by a shortage of chemicals normally added to the water. Without some of these chemicals, bacteria can infest the water and make it unclean for athletes. “It’s gross and I would not want to swim there,” said Laura Hodge, junior.
According to CNN, Rio de Janeiro has a new water treatment plant, which will be providing citizens in the city with modern water treatment. However, the new treatment plant only benefits a small percentage of Brazilians. The rest resort to old-fashioned waste disposal, dumping into the ocean. This makes the coastal water extremely toxic, which directly affects the the Olympic water athletes.
Matt Smith, stated to the Chicago Tribune that the water off the coast of the capital was so clean that it was almost drinking water and the native Brazilians were surprised by Smith’s statement. They had been around the smell of sewage in the air and dead fish on the beach for their whole life. Now, a foreign man was telling them that their water was almost drinkable when they saw evidence to the contrary everyday.
The Independent, a British Newspaper, heavily implies that Brazil should not have been allowed to host the Olympic games. “For those nations competent in staging elite sports, every stone would have been turned over to restore the purity of the water and dignify the world’s best divers with the respect they deserve.”
Many agreed that Rio should not have hosted the games. Others wrote the article off as the point of view of a arrogant, privileged man. People in the Blacksburg community mostly agree that it was a decent choice to hold the Games in Rio.
“I think it was great for Rio to have the opportunity to host the Olympic games. The water seemed to have a lot of problems, and that’s something they should have considered when choosing Rio,” said Emily Halstead, teacher.
A lot of controversy stirs up when something goes mysteriously wrong at what some would say is the most important international event. Rio is trying to improve their water quality with a new wastewater treatment plant, but the quality of their environment still proves to be a health hazard to Olympic athletes.