Cleaning up the dangerously polluted Guanabara Bay in the next year for sailing events is the biggest challenge facing Rio de Janeiro Olympic organisers, IOC chief Thomas Bach said Wednesday.
“This is first of all the cleaning of the bay,” Bach said when asked about the problems remaining for the Rio Games which start on August 5 next year.
He said Rio organisers had proposed action at an International Olympic Committee executive meeting in Kuala Lumpur following reports of floating debris, raw sewage and dangerous bacteria in Guanabara, where the sailing and windsurfing will be held.
Bach said some cleaning measures had started and others “will be applied to the bay just before the Olympic Games to make sure there is the safety and the health of the athletes”.
Some competitors have demanded that the sailing and windsurfing competition should be moved to cleaner waters. But this has been rejected by Rio organisers who say that a fleet of trash collecting boats will protect sailors during the Olympics.
Organisers have acknowledged that the bay will not be cleaned in time for the Olympics but say it will be safe enough for competition to go ahead.
Bach said there was also an urgent need to get the international broadcasting centre ready on time and for public transport arrangements to be completed.
Bach, who said he would attend a rowing test event in Rio on the one-year countdown day, told reporters that Rio had “acknowledged” the challenges and the IOC was “confident that we will have a great Games”. – Agence France-Presse