Imagine training every day of your life for one big moment, only to find that the moment will be marred by wading through shit-infested water. That's exactly what members of the US Olympic rowing team will feel when they head into the polluted waters of Rio de Janeiro at the 2016 Olympics. The team will be competing in water that literally has fresh poop dumped into it every single day. Image: Getty
To fight the abhorrent pollution, the US Olympic rowing team was fitted with high-tech training unibody suits knitted with an antimicrobial finish. The suits were supposed to protect against the flesh-eating disease and other pathogens found in the water that the team would be racing in. But now experts aren't so sure that the suits will help prevent the spread of disease.
A new Wired report suggests that the antimicrobial racing suit probably won't be enough to protect the athletes from water pollution in Rio de Janeiro. The issue is that the suits have a layer of chemical-based antimicrobial finish to kill or inhibit some microorganisms. But some health experts aren't sure the biocides can kill microbes fast enough. They also realise that athletes will be immersing themselves in water with an insane amount of pathogens, viruses, bacteria and other waterborne disease.
The entire controversy began last winter when the Associated Press reported that waterways set to be used in Olympic competition were rife with pathogens and disease. The AP said raw sewage flows directly into major bodies of water near the venues where competition take place. It reported that viruses linked to human sewage were present at levels up to 1.7 million times (!!!) what is considered alarming in the US and Europe. The team found faecal bacteria, rotaviruses, enteroviruses and adenoviruses in every venue where competition will take place.
So without the suit, what are athletes supposed to do? Well — they should just follow the instructions of their coach: SWIM FASTER! ROW FASTER! GET THE HELL OUT OF THAT WATER!