The Summer Olympics Are Less than a Year Away – Will Rio be Ready?

Grace McKenna, Viewpoints Editor

There are 294 days as of October 15 until the opening ceremony of The 2016 Olympic Games. Athletes tighten their laces and prepare for yet another day of practice. Fans purchase tickets and Brazil gets ready for the big event. More often than not, large events, like the Olympics, come with complications. In 1916, the OIympics were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War One. In 1996, the Centennial Olympic Park bombing caused a tragic distraction from the games. There were many boycotts and protests. The Olympics are almost a year away, and it seems that The Brazilians have created some of their own worst problems.

Waters in Rio pose a threat to the health of our aquatic athletes, such as swimmers, rowers, and triathletes. Raw human sewage along with trash is often not treated in Brazil, therefore, it rolls down hills and streams into Guanabara Bay, adding to the polluted waters. It’s not like this is a new problem. This filthy water has affected the citizens of Rio before we even knew that the Olympics were being hosted there. Sewage plants placed in the area never entirely worked. Rio promised to construct eight new plants in preparation for the Olympics. So far, they haven’t started.

Despite alerts that the water is “unfit” for swimming, some athletes insist on training. These are hard-core Olympic athletes; they need to practice. “There’s a 99% chance of getting sick from consuming merely 3 tablespoons of Rio’s water,” wrote Mark Hinog in SB Nation. That’s swallowing less than a mouthful of water. Just by swimming a few miles, athletes risk their health and well-being. “There have been countless examples of terrible water conditions for our open water athletes over the past decade, however the water analyses coming out of Rio are truly horrifying,” says Emily White, co-founder of Dreamfuel and manager of many elite swimmers in Dave Zirin’s article in The Nation “The Water in Rio Is Full of Sludge and Rotting Fish—And Olympians Are Supposed to Swim in It.” These sicknesses aren’t just regular colds, they are diseases that can lead to permanent damage and other complications.

Rio officials are trying their best to clean the water in time for the games. “The water quality at the Olympic sailing venue in Rio de Janeiro is a serious issue but will be resolved by the time the Games begin next year,” Rio Organising Committee president Carlos Nuzman said in Mike Collett’s article on the Reuters “Olympics-Water will be clean in time for Games.” Others are arguing against this. They say that Rio will not have 80 percent of sewage removed in time and the water races will need to be relocated. The Olympics are scheduled for August 5-21, 2016. The aquatic events will occur on Barra da Tijuca, Copacabana, Maracanã, and Deodoro Beaches. There is still one question that remains unanswered: Will Brazil be able to clean the water in time for the Olympics?