Devastating Associated Press investigation into next year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro:
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Athletes in next year’s Summer Olympics here will be swimming and boating in waters so contaminated with human feces that they risk becoming violently ill and unable to compete in the games, an Associated Press investigation has found.
An AP analysis of water quality revealed dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage in Olympic and Paralympic venues — results that alarmed international experts and dismayed competitors training in Rio, some of whom have already fallen ill with fevers, vomiting and diarrhea.
It is the first independent comprehensive testing for both viruses and bacteria at the Olympic sites.
Brazilian officials have assured that the water will be safe for the Olympic athletes and the medical director of the International Olympic Committee said all was on track for providing safe competing venues. But neither the government nor the IOC tests for viruses, relying on bacteria testing only.
Olympic athletes are almost certain to come into contact with disease-causing viruses that in some tests measured up to 1.7 million times the level of what would be considered hazardous on a Southern California beach.
More than 10,000 athletes from 205 nations are expected to compete in next year’s Olympics. Nearly 1,400 of them will be sailing in the waters near Marina da Gloria in Guanabara Bay, swimming off Copacabana beach, and canoeing and rowing on the brackish waters of the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake.
Read the rest.
John Griffith, a marine biologist at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, examined the protocols, methodology and results of the four rounds of AP tests in the three outdoor water sports sites. All three sites were found to be unsafe.
Kristina Mena, a U.S. expert in risk assessment for waterborne viruses, examined the AP data and estimated that international athletes at all water venues would have a 99 percent chance of infection if they ingested just three teaspoons of water — though whether a person will fall ill depends on immunity and other factors.
The IOC should have pulled the plug on the Rio Olympics after the infrastructural trainwreck that was the 2014 Brazil World Cup, which was by comparison a much easier task to begin with.
Instead, the IOC responded to the AP report by saying Brazil should just stick to bacteria testing and that it would all be ok. In reality, many athletes already training on site reported becoming extremely sick repeatedly.
Even local Brazilians aren’t benefiting from this hosting opportunity:
As part of its Olympic project, Brazil promised to build eight treatment facilities to filter out much of the sewage and prevent tons of household trash from flowing into the Guanabara Bay. Only one has been built.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes has said it’s a “shame” the Olympic promises wouldn’t be met, adding the games are proving “a wasted opportunity” as far as the waterways are concerned.
Between the International Olympic Committee and FIFA enthusiastically defending the Russian government ahead of the 2014 Olympics and 2018 World Cup, respectively, this has been the year of the international sporting organizations loudly telling off everyone for suggesting maybe certain policy actions should have consequences for host nations.
For the latest discussion of 2018 Russian and 2022 Qatari World Cup controversies and potential consequences, listen to my radio segment with Nate on this week’s Arsenal For Democracy – Episode 98 Part 2:
Part 2 – Russian and Qatari World Cups – AFD 98
Here’s a comment from FIFA in July concerning the Russian invasion and annexation of parts of Ukraine and whether or not the 2018 World Cup should be yanked from Russia:
“History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to solve problems.”
I feel like the IOC and FIFA and other similar bodies keep asserting that sports sanctions & boycotts don’t solve political problems as if they’re giving new information to the world.
In fact, I would guess that pretty much everyone agrees at this point it’s not so much about solving the problems as about taking away the toys, fun, and games from rogue states, so that they’re at least not rewarded for horrendous behavior.
I’m not sure anyone genuinely believed excluding Apartheid South Africa from the Olympics and a vast array of other global sporting competitions (teams and athletes were restricted from traveling there to play events/matches and South African athletes were generally disinvited from overseas events) was actually going to end apartheid by itself. But that was beside the point.
Indeed, that isolation policy itself became an important catalyst for other related boycott actions to keep up pressure on various countries and the IOC, which was (and is) always trying to weasel its way out of even the mildest policies of applying consequences. In 1968, many of the newly free African nations (joined by the Eastern Bloc) actually did manage to threaten a boycott so convincingly that the IOC was forced to rescind a premature invitation to South Africa in violation of the isolation policy. These actions also reinforced the rise of pan-African unity efforts in the decolonization period (which was still continuing at the time) and helped lay a foundation to maintain unified pressure on South Africa through the 1970s and 1980s.
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I was a huge fan of the Olympics when I was growing up, probably ever since I had to do a book report on Jesse Owens when I was in elementary school. I knew about the problems in the past — and have had an emerging appreciation for the difficulties and tribulations it causes the residents of host cities, particularly the lower-income folks. But, broadly speaking, I believed it was one of those things that had an important ideal for humanity even if it didn’t always meet it.
When I say I was a huge fan, I mean huge. In fact, from February 2002 (i.e. Salt Lake) to some time around February 2006 — maybe later even — my bedroom was always decorated with Olympics-related stuff. As a kid, I knew an insane amount arcane trivia about various Olympics, and I’m not even really big into sports. I even had an Olympics-themed birthday party one year. I’ve stayed up late so many summers and winters, night after night, to watch the games. I was very disappointed not to have a TV in 2010 for the Vancouver Games and kept trying to find TVs playing it in public spaces. In 2012, despite all the annoying tape-delay BS, I was relieved I had a TV to watch the London games.
This year, I would have all the time in the world and my own TV. But I won’t be watching any of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Not after everything that’s happened in the run-up to it.