Rio Olympics chiefs say pool, sea concerns being resolved

View of the construction site of the Olympic Aquatics Stadium at Rio Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Oct 6, 2015. The Olympic Aquatics Stadium will host swimming and water polo competitions during the Rio 2016 Olympic games.
View of the construction site of the Olympic Aquatics Stadium at Rio Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Oct 6, 2015. The Olympic Aquatics Stadium will host swimming and water polo competitions during the Rio 2016 Olympic games.PHOTO: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Rio Olympics organisers said on Friday (Oct 16) that a dispute with world swimming authorities over the construction of an open-air water polo facility for next year's Games is being resolved.

The Rio 2016 Olympics organising committee also insisted that testing of sewage-laden waters where sailing and some swimming events will take place meets new recommendations from the World Health Organisation.

Members of the international swimming authority Fina last month harshly criticised Rio's decision to use a roofless pool for the diving and water polo contests.

The Maria Lenk pool and other preparations for swimming events risk "seriously damaging the image and value of Fina," a leaked letter from the organisation said.

But Mario Andrada, spokesman for the Rio 2016 Committee, said talks with Fina were entering "a very constructive phase" and that "in a couple of weeks we are going to find a solution" - without offering details.

"We still have a lot to respond and to dialogue with Fina because we need to make sure we have water polo in the proper space and they are happy," Andrada said.

Andrada also responded to criticism - echoed by Fina among others - that the sea in Guanabara Bay and off Copacabana beach will pose a health risk to sailors, windsurfers and long-distance swimmers during the Olympics.

Much of Rio de Janeiro's sewage, as well as the city garbage, goes untreated into Guanabara. This week officials responded to large oil slicks off the city of Niteroi, across the bay from Rio.

"In all the areas of the field of play the water is clean according to international parameters," Andrada said.

He said guidelines released on Friday by the World Health Organisation on dealing with the sewage risk would be followed.

The WHO recommends "a regular and ongoing program of microbial water-quality testing" for bacteria in the "faecally contaminated recreational water."

However, tests for dangerous viruses are not specified "because of a lack of standardised methods and difficulty interpreting results."

Andrada said "we need to do more getting ready for the Olympic Games making sure the Guanabara Bay looks ready and is ready."