Olympics: Rio rejects swimming body's criticism of Olympic facilities

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Rio de Janeiro's mayor on Thursday rejected harsh criticism by the international swimming organisation of the city's preparations for swimming events at the 2016 Games.

Fina, based in Switzerland, sharply criticised pollution off Copacabana Beach where open-water events will be held, reduced seating capacity at the pool for the main races, and the lack of a roof over the pool for diving, water polo and synchronised swimming, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Fina accused Rio's mayor, Eduardo Paes, of "seriously damaging the image and value of Fina and its disciplines," AP quoted a leaked letter from Fina president Julio Maglione to Paes as saying.

Fina said it was "disappointed" by the leaking of the letter but did not comment on the contents.

Paes said that the criticism was unwarranted and that Rio "has met all the demands" of the International Olympic Committee.

Fina and the IOC "always knew" that the Maria Lenk diving pool had no roof, he said in a statement, explaining that Rio lacked the resources to add the structure.

Likewise, the capacity at the main pool, which will be able to take only 13,000 people compared to the 17,000 capacity at the 2012 London Olympics, "was always known" to Fina, Paes said.

"Our installations cannot be compared to those in Beijing. They won't be as luxurious, they won't be over the top, because that costs a lot of money and the city has to be careful with the money," a spokesman for the mayor's office told AFP.

Paes did not refer to the seawater quality off Copacabana Beach. Nearby Guanabara Bay, where sailing events will take place, has been condemned by independent environmentalists as dangerously polluted.