Surviving the Rio Olympics

Imagine being a swimmer about to compete in the Olympics, knowing that the bay you’re swimming in is contaminated with garbage, sewage, scum, and recently a corpse.  Contaminated in such a way as to be described by at least one biologist as “pure s---.”

Contaminated with levels of bacteria that would close beaches in the United States and viral levels two hundred times higher than what we, in America, would consider the threshold for unsafe.

Contaminated with typhoid, hepatitis, dysentery, gastroenteritis, and a range of infections.

And that is what these young athletes are supposed to dive into for the swim of their lives (perhaps literally).

But not to worry.  Idiot bureaucrats have proposed some brilliant ideas to get around the problem of swimming in a gigantic toilet, such as going to Rio ahead of time and swimming in the water in order to build up immunity.

Really?  OK.  I say whoever had that idea be the test case.

Other absurd non-solutions include the U.S. swim team wearing seamless, one-piece, sleeveless swimsuits that extend to the top of the thigh, made of anti-microbial fiber.  But what about all the bare skin on their arms, legs, head, and neck that are exposed?  Oh, well.  They must carry on, cover up any open cuts or scrapes prior to coming into contact with the water, and oh, by the way, while they’re out there swimming their hearts out, avoid getting water in their mouths.

Excuse me, but swimming in what a recent AP study on the water in Rio described as “raw sewage” is not a good idea not matter what you wear and how well you cover open sores.  It’s the 21st century.  I think we know this lesson by now, no?  (Apparently not.)  As for swimming without getting water in your mouth, I’d like to see the genius who came up with that idea try it.

As one might imagine, although the Olympics haven’t started, athletes are already getting sick, including non-swimmers such as members of Austria’s sailing team who have become ill with high fevers, vomiting, and diarrhea, despite directives to splash their face with bottled water if they get hit with spray from the waves.  (Hey!  If water were sufficient to battle viruses and bacteria, we wouldn’t need water and soap, alcohol, or anti-microbials.)

(Of note, visitors are also at risk, as pathogens in the water leach into the sand on the beach.)

This is what happens when fools select a place like Rio for the Olympics – a place infamous for its filth.  A place where the sewage in the water is so bad you can smell it when you land at the airport.  A place faced with huge fish die-offs from contaminated water – dead fish that remain in the water and contribute to the rotting decay.  And so it goes, with cultural norms that result in abject filth and the spread of disease (here, here, here, here, here, and photos here).

But maybe I’m over-reacting. After all, the mayor of Rio assured everyone, “This is not a failure!,” claiming they achieved 60% of their goal of cleaning up 80% of the water.

Well, that changes everything now that we know there’s not quite as much feces, blood, urine, bacteria, viruses, garbage, scum, and perhaps the occasional corpse floating around.

Of course, these numbers are meaningless, as when Rio officials assured everyone last year that the waters would be safe for the Olympics despite the fact that, for example, they don’t test for viruses.  How those in charge determine that the water is safe is anyone’s guess.

So let me guess: it’s determined it’s safe because they say so.

But okay.  Let’s take them at their word that they’ve cleaned things up and that while it’s not perfect, it’s safe.  In celebration of this great achievement, may I suggest that the mayor and the other elites involved in this fiasco wade way out into the 60% cleaned up waters and have a nice drink from the bay?

Then there’s the Zika virus, which is spreading quickly due, in part, to a plant that lives off sewage and spreads across the water with cup-shaped leaves that hold water.  Where mosquitoes breed.

And with that, a new competitive sport is born: surviving the Rio Olympics.

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