Rio de Janeiro in Brazil will be hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics. They have the honour of being the first South American country to host them. The Games were awarded to Rio amid much hoopla and celebration. It is now likely that some of the Olympic Committee are having second thoughts.
There is no debate about the stunning setting that Rio has with a combination of ocean, lagoons and mountains. Over six million people call it home. And many hold their nose while doing so.
You can imagine the garbage and sewage that six million people produce daily. Now imagine the mess if two thirds of the people have no garbage pickup and two thirds of the sewage is not treated, but is allowed to drain into waterways and canals. It is not just those unfortunate to live in the slums that dump untreated sewage directly into nearby waterways. This weekend past, hundreds of people demonstrated their anger over a modern condominium block contributing to the city’s stench.
Yesterday thousands of fish were found floating on the surface of the lagoon that serves as the backdrop to the Olympic Park. Officially, the cause of the mass die-off is a drop in water temperature.
The canal that residents were protesting drains into the lagoon that surrounds the Olympic Park. Water quality checks already show that antibiotic resistant bacteria thrive in the polluted lagoon. Previously, the venue for rowing and canoeing, Guanabara Bay, made headlines for its filthy condition. A new sport has been added – kiteboarding will also likely be held on the bay which has been described as a latrine.
While some effort has been made to filter out large pieces of garbage like sofas, no effective means have been taken to remove the bacteria laden sewage dumping.
It may be that some Olympic athletes will be taking home more than medals in August of 2016.