Brazil Olympics: Rio bay 'will not be clean for 2016'

Rio, Sugar Loaf mountain The Sugar Loaf mountain is at the point where the Guanabara Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean

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Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes has said that the Brazilian city will not be able to clean the polluted bay where Olympic sailing competitions will be held before the 2016 Games.

Brazil had made a commitment to reduce pollution in the Guanabara Bay by 80%.

But Mr Paes admitted that the target would not be met.

He regretted the missed opportunity but told the AP news agency that the pollution didn't pose a risk to the health of athletes.

Olympic sailors who visited Rio de Janeiro recently described the bay as an open sewer.

Guanabara Bay, road to the airport The road to Rio's international airport crosses one of the most polluted areas of the bay
Bathers in Rio's Guanabara Bay Many people in Rio ignore the strict health warnings against bathing in the Guanabara Bay
Artificial beach, Ramos, Rio The government has built artificial beaches with clean water for poorer communities who live by the bay

"I am sorry that we did not use the games to get Guanabara Bay completely clean," Mr Paes said during a conference in Rio.

Many in the city were sceptical from the beginning, after decades of broken promises to have the bay cleaned.

Greater Rio has a population of some 10 million people and millions of litres of untreated sewage are dumped in the bay every day.

Most people avoid bathing from the beautiful, albeit polluted beaches inside the bay.

But Mr Paes said that there would be no risk for the sailing teams competing in the Olympics, as the races will be held in a less polluted part of the bay.

And he insisted that Brazilians and cariocas (natives of Rio de Janeiro) will derive an important legacy both from the World Cup, which begins on Thursday, and the Olympics.

"People are not going to believe in everything we say. I think we have a problem with mistrust. This is a problem that we face from our history. There is a lot of mistrust in our capability of delivering things," Mr Paes said.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    A few people have suggested Greece as a permanent home for the Olympics. Surely a large part of the spectacle of the Olympics is to see how another country and culture stages them - the build-up, the problems, , the uncertainties , the ceremonies. Whilst the Olympics is a sporting event, it's also entertainment. And a large part of the fun would be lost if ANY permanent base was used.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    I'm from Brazil, lived in Rio and sailed on the Guanabara Bay quite often. It is really that dirty - unfortunately. I've searched on all major Brazilian Newspaper and couldn't find ONE that published a story about the Bay. That shows how manipulative and political Brazilian media is. Event's like Fifa and Olympics are means to investments, though that just goes to the pockets of corrupt politician

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Having just left Rio after working there for two years, I can fully concur with most of the comments thus far....It will take the next millennium before Guanabara is 'clean'. The infrastructure around Rio certainly cannot support a large influx of people that is why during previous events the Public Offices shut down for the duration to prevent gridlock.
    Infrastructure - what infrastructure....

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Seriously how is a country Like Brazil going to fund World Cup and Olympics in such a short period of time, The Stadiums arent even finished and way, way over budget, at human cost and strong local opposition. Im afraid water clean-up wont even make the agenda. The poorer citizens of Brazil will only look on in anger at all this money waste.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    What I really don't get is how the political elite in Brazil could look out of their windows at the favelas, with their open sewers, tin roofs, drugs, crime and prostitution. With their lack of schools, lack of infrastructure, lack of a future and think that what they really, really needed was a new football stadium.

    If they had the money then they could have done something meaningful


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