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Olympic Games 2016: Sailing boat damaged by debris in Guanabara Bay ahead of first test event

The regatta will be starting on Saturday but there are still concerns over the water quality

Fears are growing over the levels of sewage in Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara Bay after a boat was damaged due to rubbish in the water, less than a week before the first test event of the 2016 Games takes place.

Austrian Olympic sailors in the 49er class Nico Delle Karth and Nikolaus Resch were training for the Aquece Rio International Sailing Regatta 2014 when the incident happened.

“We saw a dead dog and destroyed our centre board because of some strange plastic piece we hit,” Delle Karth told Bloomberg.

The regatta will be starting on Saturday and is the first test event of the 2016 Games in the Aquece Rio programme, which will assess the conditions of the playing field. The sailing and windsurfing events are due to take place in the bay during the 2016 Games.


Delle Karth's sailing partner Resch told SNTV, “The water was really dark. It was like brown to black with some green foam on it, which was not looking so healthy, so we were really afraid of going in the water".

"We were specially checking our legs and feet for any scars because we don’t know if it’s healthy or unhealthy, so we were really worried,” he added.

This is not the first time that concerns have been raised about the pollution in Guanabara Bay. Athletes have previously described seeing human waste, rubbish and even human corpses in the waters.

Rio 2016 released a statement this week saying that “significant advancements” had been made since the Brazilian city won the bid in 2009 and that “improvements will continue”.

Only last month Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro admitted that the city would not be meeting its target to reduce pollution in the bay by 80 per cent in time for 2016. However, authorities in Rio have argued that the cleanliness of the water meets international sailing standards.