This 27 July 2015 aerial photo shows the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. An Associated Press analysis of water quality found dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage in Olympic and Paralympic venues. The Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, which was largely cleaned up in recent years, was thought be safe for rowers and canoers. Yet AP tests found its waters to be among the most polluted for Olympic sites. Photo: Leo Correa / AP Photo

By Emmett Knowlton
17 January 2016

(Business Insider) – The 2016 Summer Olympics kicks off on August 5 in Rio de Janeiro — but with less than seven months until the Opening Ceremony, a slew of problems still show no signs of improvement.

Will Connors had a good, if troubling, piece in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday laying out the concerns in Rio.

The list of concerns appears to be trending in the wrong direction as the Games draw closer.

Let's break down the biggest problems: […]

Outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases

Multiple diseases are spiraling out of control in Brazil, spreading faster than officials efforts to combat them. Writes Connors:

As of early December, a record 1.58 million cases of dengue fever were reported in Brazil in 2015. Chikungunya is mushrooming too. Most worrisome is a relatively new, fast-spreading virus called Zika. Authorities estimate it may have infected as many as 1.5 million people in recent months and has been linked by some health officials to nearly 3,200 cases of infant brain damage. While Zika has hit hardest in the Brazil’s poor northeastern region, it’s spreading quickly in Rio de Janeiro state.

The concerns here are self-explanatory. If dengue fever, Chikungunya, and Zika all continue to spread to Rio, this will only deter more fans from making the pilgrimage to Rio to watch the Games. […]

Sewage-infested bodies of water — and no signs of effective clean up

The most talked-about scandal leading up to the Olympics has been the two polluted bodies of water (Guanabara Bay and Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon) in which athletes will compete, and they are showing no signs of improvement.

Several athletes in Rio training on the waters in preparation for the Games have gotten sick, including a German sailor who contracted MRSA. 

Kristina Mena, an expert in waterborne viruses, told the AP in December, "The levels of viruses are so high in these Brazilian waters that if we saw those levels here in the United States on beaches, officials would likely close those beaches."

Connors explained that conditions aren't going to get much better over the coming months:

Plans for sewage treatment never materialized. Instead the government is using stopgap measures like small “eco-boats” that move around the bay and collect larger pieces of debris. [more]

The Rio Olympics are a mess 7 months before the opening ceremony



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