So Far, So Good in Rio

Olympics sailing boats

The first day of the Olympic sailing competitions started yesterday and stretch through Aug. 18. So far no sailor has complained of health problems or collisions with debris at the sailing venue, the famed Guanabara Bay. 

Before the event began, there were fears that fecal coliform bacteria could cause everything from skin rashes and conjunctivitis to gastroenteritis because about half of the sewage going into the bay is untreated. 

And it appears that eco-barriers—highly resistant steel grating strung across 17 main rivers flowing into the bay--along with 12 eco-boats, which scoop up floating debris, have so far kept the waters clear for the sailing lanes. 

In fact, some sailors praised the bluish color of the water on a crystal clear day.  It hasn’t rained in Rio for several weeks, and heavy rains would greatly increase the flow of raw sewage and debris into the bay.

Days earlier during the opening ceremony, organizers provided both prime-time TV viewers and the audience in Maracana Stadium with an alarmingly visual alert about the dangers of climate change. 

A video, narrated by Academy Award-winning British actress Judi Dench, showed how rapidly the Earth’s temperature has spiked over time, how drastically the Antarctic ice sheet has shrunk since 1997 and how steadily oceans would flood coastal cities worldwide if the temperate rose by 4 degrees Fahrenheit. 

It showed the potential flooding via maps in which a blue color washed over large parts of Shanghai, the entire state of Florida, Lagos, Nigeria; Dubai and Rio de Janeiro.