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SBD Global/June 9, 2014/Olympics

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes Says Bay Won't Be Clean In Time For 2016 Olympic Games

Brazil's Guanabara Bay isn't expected to be cleaned in time for the 2016 Olympics.
Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes said that Guanabara Bay "won’t be clean in time for the 2016 Olympic sailing competition, breaking a promise made when the city won hosting rights in 2009," according to Biller & Spinetto of BLOOMBERG. Paes said, "I am sorry that we didn’t use the games to get Guanabara Bay completely clean, but that wasn’t for the Olympic Games -- that was for us. That was something that we could not accomplish that was in the bid book." Paes said that the sailing competition "will be held in unpolluted waters, either outside the bay or at its entrance" (BLOOMBERG, 6/7). The AP's Stephen Wade reported any hope Brazil "would be able to clean up the sewage-filled bay was quashed in a document obtained last month" by the AP. In a May 7 letter to Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo, Rio State Environment Secretary Carlos Francisco Portinho "acknowledged in a best-case scenario that pollution flowing into the bay could be cut to 'over 50 percent' -- well below the promised reduction of 80 percent." Paes said he was "not afraid for the health of any of the athletes. It's going to be fine." Some parts "are worse than others, but water movements and tides make it difficult to predict the trajectory of human waste and floating debris." Asked if the government "would be morally or legally responsible for any athletes who became ill," Paes replied, "Sure, I think it's our responsibility. Yes" (AP, 6/7). In London, Andrew Griffin reported sailors that have visited the site "have described it as a dump, and reported dodging waste including discarded furniture, floating dog carcasses and even human corpses." The N.Y. Times "has described how Thomas Low-Beer, a Brazilian Olympic hopeful who sails in the bay, shuddered when recalling how he crashed into a submerged sofa and was capsized into the bay" (INDEPENDENT, 6/8).
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