Olympic sailing events may be moved

This NASA image highlights Rio on the left side of Guanamara Bay. Around 70% of Rio’s raw sewage apparently flushes into the bay This NASA image highlights Rio on the left side of Guanamara Bay. Around 70% of Rio’s raw sewage apparently flushes into the bay

RIO OLYMPICS: At long last, it appears the ISAF is taking notice of the complaints lodged ever since Guanabara Bay in Rio was announced as the venue for the 2016 sailing events.

The bay is essentially an enormous drain into which Rio’s sewers empty. That’s raw sewage from 7,000,000 people a day…

So sailors have been coming down ill with skin conditions and various illnesses after falling into the fetid waters.

Many of those duckings were caused by the sailors’ boats hitting submerged objects, causing damage to the boats and tipping crews into the appalling foul waters.

Check the rubbish for yourself by entering ‘Guanabara Bay pollution’ into your favourite search engine…

After an exceptional campaign mounted by journalist Glenn T McCarthy, who writes for the Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation newsletter and the ChicagoNow blog, ISAF is now actually pushing Rio to get the Olympic sailing venue moved.

Mr McCarthy actually emailed every journalist he could around the world. He also emailed every country's Member National Authority (MNA), telling them what was happening.

Now it appears Mr McCarthy’s efforts seem to be having an effect. More articles have appeared – like this one – highlighting the awful truth. National newspapers have run articles supporting Mr McCarthy’s views.

And things are beginning to happen. Like the ISAF now pushing to get the 2016 Guanabara Bay Olympic sailing venue moved.

But the Brazilian government’s immediate response to articles demanding the venue should be changed was to get Rio de Janeiro’s State Environment Secretary - André Corrêa – to jump into the water during a television interview.

However, onlookers – including Brazilian ex-Olympic sailor and ex-politician, Lars Grael – pointed out Mr Corrêa took his dip fully clothed at the mouth of the bay and at the top of the tide when clean Atlantic Ocean water enters the bay.

“Here it is just like the beach at Ipanema,” Mr Corrêa is reported to have claimed.

Then again, BB can think of another suitable quote from many years ago: “He would, wouldn’t he”.

Infectious disease
Even then an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro claimed the high ranking Mr Corrêa could have become severely ill as a result (of his short immersion).

But is it likely the ISAF's demand to move the venue will be met?

Alastair Fox, the head of competitions for the ISAF, said: "If we have to race all the races outside the bay, if that's what it comes to, to ensure a fair regatta, then that's something we're going to explore and could do."

Mr Fox said the ISAF had asked the Switzerland based International Olympic Committee (IOC) to pressure Brazilian politicians.

According to Mr McCarthy, previous Olympic venues have been moved.

The Los Angeles 1984 event moved its sailing venue four times. And for London 2012, the venues for gymnastics and badminton were changed 18 months before the games opened.

Two venues
The organising committee for the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games had offered two different venues for sailing in its bid package.

Like Rio, Barcelona was heavily polluted and the proposed marina was part of a major shipping port – and that really wouldn’t have worked.

So the then president of the ISAF, Canadian Paul Henderson (often called the ‘Pope of Sailing’) negotiated with the Barcelona authorities to build a new marina away from the commercial traffic.

He also got them to clean up the sewage that was being dumped into the Mediterranean.

Apparently, Barcelona came through and, while the water wasn't perfect, it was highly improved by the time the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games opened.

So there should be no reason why the Brazilians can’t offer sailing something similar…

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