Olympic athletes competing in water sports in next year’s games in Rio De Janeiro will have dangerous levels of contamination to deal with, according to new tests conducted by the Associated Press.
The tests found that bacterial and viral contamination in Rio’s waterways is not just present at the water’s edge, where earlier tests confirmed high levels of toxins, but also further offshore where sports events will take place.
"We're talking about an extreme environment, where the pollution is so high that exposure is imminent and the chance of infection very likely," Kristina Mena, an expert in waterborne viruses at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, told the AP.
The AP’s original tests in July revealed that the waterways, which receive raw untreated sewage that includes human waste, contain viral contaminants at rates up to 1.7 million times higher than the levels that are seen as alarming in the U.S. and Europe. After those tests, athletes at a trial run in August came down with illnesses including cases of flesh-eating bacteria after coming into contact with the water.
The International Olympic Committee and World Health Organization said they would conduct their own tests to ensure that athletes will be safe at the games next year, but have said they will only conduct bacterial testing, not taking into account viral contamination.
The results from the AP's own testing show that the contamination levels remain dangerously high and that no progress has been made, according to the press agency.