Rio 2016 Olympics: Sailors warned over sewage-infested waters, dog carcasses and even 'human corpses' in Guanabara Bay

Five years after Brazil won its Olympic bid, athletes have condemned the site of the Olympic sailing and windsurfing events as a 'dump'

Olympic sailors looking to compete in the 2016 Summer Games have voiced concerns over sewage-infested waters swamped with rubbish and human waste in Rio de Janeiro's Guanabara Bay, where the Olympic sailing and windsurfing events will take place.

Athletes have described having to dodge a deluge of rubbish including floating mattresses, car tyres, submerged sofas, dog carcasses and even human corpses, as former Olympian medallist Lars Grael claimed, when sailing in the water - five years after Brazil won its Olympic bid.

The Bay was condemned as a “dump” in March by Germany’s sailing team because of the garbage-filled waters, where they questioned how the sailing regattas would be organised there.

Nico Delle Karth, an Austrian sailor told The New York Times the stench of sewage made him scared of putting his feet in it to launch his boat. “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” he said.  

“It can get really disgusting, with dog carcasses in some places and the water turning brown from sewage contamination,” Thomas Low-Beer, a Brazilian Olympic hopeful who sails in the bay added.

The fears over the conditions in the water come after The Associated Press claimed to have obtained a letter from Rio's state environment secretary Carlos Francisco Portinho, where he told sports minister Aldo Rebelo that pollution flowing into the bay could be cut to "over 50 per cent" - well below the promised reduction of 80 per cent.

Nearly 70 per cent of Rio's sewage goes untreated into its waters, according to AP. Danish Olympian Allan Norregaard, a bronze medalist at the 2012 Olympics, said Guanabara was "the most polluted place I've ever been." Other sailors interviewed by the AP referred to it as an "open sewer."

State officials are now using rubbish boats to collect floating debris and officials contend criticism of Guanabara Bay is exaggerated. Carlos Portinho, an environmental official in Rio, said reversing pollution in the bay was a “long-term project" and while three small “ecoboats”currently correct rubbish, 20 or 30 might be operating by the Olympics.

But Alastair Fox, head of competitions for the international sailing federation, said the body is now likely to conduct its own independent water quality tests in a bid to reduce concerns among athletes

"If someone picks up a bag, or hits a sofa or something like that, then clearly that is going to affect them in the race," Mr Fox said.

"We've seen numbers from teams of the fecal content in the Guanabara Bay, which clearly are not safe," he added. "For us, that's a matter of concern. We've been assured again by the organisers that they are doing everything they can."

However, Mario Moscatelli, a biologist and outspoken environmentalist said retrieving floating rubbish would not address the problem of untreated sewage.

In an open letter to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, he asked for the "release of the funds needed to recover the environmental assets, which are being used in Rio as garbage dumps and latrines."

The International Olympic Committee has said it will not conduct its own testing.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game