Rio 2016 Threatened by Super-Bacteria

Waters for sailing, windsurfing events loaded with infectious agents

Dec 16, 2014
Outside Magazine
Guanabara Bay Rio de Janeiro rio 2016 olympics rio olympics drug-resistant bacteria mayor paes Carioca river Flamengo beach hannah weinberger outside outside magazine

When sailing Guanabara Bay, stay in your boat. Better yet, get out of the water.    Raoni/Flickr

Researchers say Flamengo Beach, adjacent to the marina where sailing and windsurfing events will take place during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is swimming with drug-resistant bacteria linked to urinary, gastrointestinal, and pulmonary infections.

Scientists from Brazil’s Instituto Oswaldo Cruz found the bacteria in samples taken close to the beach and along the Carioca River, which flows into Guanabara Bay. The beach is on the western edge of the bay. Nearly 70 percent of sewage produced by Rio’s 10 million residents ends up in Guanabara Bay, including hospital waste in which the super-bacteria is typically found.

Eduardo Paes, mayor of Rio, has pledged to clean the bay ahead of the Olympics, the BBC reports. But in June, Paes admitted the country wouldn’t be able to reduce pollution in the bay by 80 percent in time for the games—a key aspect of his Olympic bid. Paes’ administration insists water pollution won’t be an Olympic health threat, even though Rio officials often declare Flamengo Beach unfit for swimming.