About Brazil’s pollution problem – A wiser and more eloquent man than myself once said that no matter how hard life gets, no matter how densely packed with zika-armed mosquitos, human waste/wasted humans, and Hepatitis A-through-Z, the waterways on which athletes will compete in the XXXI Rio Summer Olympiad get, for example, people still tend to prefer dealing with their own issues over even the most mundane problems of the rich and famous.
The world is a dirty, dangerous, beautiful place; the grass is always greener, yet humanity insists on living, loving, and finding happiness in even the most toxic and scorched corners of the Earth.
The waterways and sewage lines are horribly polluted by any and all public health standards. Interviews with citizens of favelas or shantytowns like the largest, Rocinha, and talks with public officials and fishermen alike, both concerned with issues of infrastructure (i.e., plumbing) and water quality, show the water pollution problem that has the international athletic community concerned for their health and the general public wary of humanitarian insensitivity and skeptical how rigorously Summer Game-host cities are vetted, is more nuanced and complicated than one might think.
Since the ancient tradition was rekindled in Athens 1896, there has not been a single Olympiad that did not open to public uproar or was not host to some sort of scandal. From doping (e.g., Beijing, 2008) to terrorist kidnappings (Munich, 1972) to the disease-and-sewage laden water that has, alongside several other glaring issues that are all interconnected, plagued the XXXI Summer Games in Rio this year, nothing ever seems to go right. Protests against the idea of Rio de Janeiro hosting the Olympics started as soon as the bid was made official because Brazilian citizens knew what the Committee and the developed world glazed over with rosy hues the rampant political corruption, economic mismanagement, faltering infrastructure, crime, pollution, and abject poverty teeming in favelas.
All of these issues are tied to the most pressing concern of all, that most of the water outside of facilities maintained by pool boys on Copacabana Beach has, by some standards, alarming levels of feces and other toxic waste. Here are 15 facts about the water pollution issue in Rio and surrounding areas that you most likely do not have the time to scour the Internet to find out about.
15. If It Looks Like ‘It And Smells Like ‘It…
In July of last year (2015), an Alternative Press independent study found that, “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.” Therefore it should be little to no surprise that already in training, several athletes fell ill before the opening ceremonies. What is slightly more surprising is that athletes have complained the beach water literally smells like sewage. Meanwhile, back when Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host this year’s games, in 2009, there were supposed plans to have the triathlete beach of Copacabana and others pollution free by 2014, two years ago. You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and mayor.