FINA Calls for Virus Testing in Rio

Concerned about water contamination in 2016 Olympics

“It is very important for FINA that all athletes competing in the marathon swimming event in Rio 2016 Games can compete in an environment free from any bacterial or viral contamination." (Rodrigo Soldon / Flickr)

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) has called for virus testing for the 2016 Olympic Games’ swimming competition area in Rio de Janeiro, the AP reported Wednesday. In a letter to Olympic planners and Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes, FINA said the risk of contamination was serious enough to call for testing at Copacabana Beach, where the marathon swimming and triathlon events will take place.

“FINA and its Sports Medicine Committee strongly recommend that viral tests should also be performed,” the letter reads. “It is very important for FINA that all athletes competing in the marathon swimming event in Rio 2016 Games can compete in an environment free from any bacterial or viral contamination.”

In January, city officials said they would not be able to reduce pollution along Rio’s shoreline in time for the 2016 Olympic windsurfing and sailing events at Guanabara Bay, an area known for its exposure to raw sewage. A five-month study, published by the AP in July, found that the waters in which competitors may swim tested positive for 2,000 times the level of human adenovirus that would be considered dangerous in the United States.

“This situation is in clear disrespect for the FINA requirements concerning aquatic venues, and will negatively affect the safety conditions and the level of performances of our athletes,” the letter said.

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