“We want to show that we are capable of doing things on time, that Brazil is not a country where everything ends up over budget, everything ends up late,” Paes told reporters in the yet-to-be completed Arena Carioca 3 stadium. “We are literally making a miracle happen here.”
While that’s all good for the structures, questions remain about the state of the city’s waterways, where open-water swimmers, rowers, canoeists, sailors and triathletes will compete. Last week, an AP investigation set off worldwide alarms about both the levels of bacteria and viruses in the waters. The investigation also reported athletes who have been training in Rio have experienced bouts of fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
The investigation prompted the World Health Organization to call on the IOC to run new tests on the waters, including testing for potentially dangerous viruses. Previously, the IOC had only tested the waters for bacteria.
While some athletes have downplayed the concerns, several athletic federations are taking them seriously, including International Sailing Federation, which plans to do its own testing, and World Rowing, which indicated it would react in some way if the tests come back showing harmful elements in the waters.
“If there is a problem, we will react,” World Rowing CEO Matt Smith told the AP. “It’s our moral duty.”
There will no doubt be at least some pollution that remains in the waterways of Rio by next year. In March, Mayor Paes admitted the city’s cleanup process was lagging far behind its goals.
“I think it’s a shame,” Paes told SporTV earlier this year. “I think it’s a lost opportunity.”
Despite the concerns, the Junior World Rowing Championships reportedly will go ahead on Thursday.
The contest was apparently approved by IOC President Thomas Bach, who was spotted wading into the waters himself on Wednesday.