The only thing smellier than the Rio de Janeiro lake that sickened rowers preparing for next year’s summer Olympics is the process by which the lords of the International Olympic Committee allowed this to happen.
No, this isn’t sour grapes over Boston 2024. Honestly now, other than from those deriving a paycheck from the group, has anyone heard a whimper of local regret?
But the same process that led to Vladimir Putin’s costly bread-and-circuses winter 2014 vanity production in balmy Sochi — the same process that has led to Beijing, where the average February temperature is 40 degrees, “winning” the 2022 winter Olympics (no other country with the exception of Kazakhstan even wanted it) — is the very same one that endangers athletes in filthy Brazilian waters.
Mitt Romney stepped in to save the Salt Lake City Olympics from the stench of corruption, but there continue to be lingering doubts about the ethics of the IOC, reinforced by their insistence on being sheltered in Lucerne, Switzerland — same as the now-proven corrupt governing body for world soccer, FIFA.
Of course, Rio insisted it would be cleaning up its polluted waterways in time for the 2016 Games. But one year out the job is far from done. And is it really surprising that 13 of the 40-member U.S. team (plus four staffers, including their coach) in Rio on a trial run for the games came down with stomach illnesses?
In a recent report prior to the current trials, the Associated Press hired its own experts to test some Olympic water venues, including Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, where the rowing competition took place. “Some tests measured up to 1.7 million times the level of what would be considered hazardous on a Southern California beach,” the AP found. “Extreme water pollution is common in Brazil, where the majority of sewage is not treated. Raw waste runs through open-air ditches to streams and rivers that feed the Olympic water sites.”
It is now up to coaches and competitors to protect themselves — bleaching oar handles, scrubbing their hands, putting water bottles in zip-locked bags.
The local environmental agency admits to not even having the equipment or personnel needed to test the water.
Rio’s mayor said, “The IOC needs to tell us that we need to (test).”
Good luck on that score.
— Boston Herald,