Rio Olympic athletes risk serious illness from polluted water: AP

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 30, 2015 9:53 AM

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Athletes risk serious illness from dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria in sewage-contaminated waters at the swimming and boating venues being prepared for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.

Tests conducted by the AP found levels of disease-causing viruses as much as 1.7 million times the level that would be considered hazardous on a Southern California beach. Levels of raw sewage, the AP reported, contradict statements by Olympic organizers that the water-sports venues will be safe.

Some athletes training for the games have already fallen ill, AP said. Pollution levels are equivalent to those in raw sewage, the news agency added.

The report was based on four rounds of testing by the AP at the venues for sailing and rowing and for the swimming portion of the triathalon, as well as at Rio's famed Ipanema Beach.

The tests measured levels of human adenovirus, rotavirus and enterovirus as well as fecal-coliform bacteria.

Rio de Janeiro Olympic officials told the AP they are only testing for fecal-coliform bacteria, the basis for water quality in most countries, and that their testing finds the water to be in line with Brazilian rules.

(Reporting by Jeb Blount; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)