The S***hole/Dunny/Midden that is Rio!

I apologise for the rather crude title, in fact I’m not sure why I bothered to star out shithole because if you bother to Google the word it describes it as a bad place, especially somewhere undesirable to live or work.  You can only judge a shithole by the turds that pass through it.  That’s it; it’s called Rio de Janeiro.

I must declare an interest in that all of my life I have been a competitive sailor, competing in nearly every class of sailing yacht from a Mirror Dinghy to one of the Tall Ships, with Flying Dutchmen, 505s, Dragons and Ocean Racers in between. I’ve also been a couple of times to Rio de Janeiro.

I have also banged my drum at the idiocy of the Olympic Committee in choosing it for next year’s Olympics.  But did they listen? Nah! Oh well I shall at least be able to say “I told you so”.  Please have a look at my previous rants by having a look at

If you see Rio on travelogues you will not be able to wait to go there.  Look at the beautiful girls on Copacabana Beach; listen to Barry Manilow on sexy Ipanema, yesssss! That’ll do me.  I must say that I loved the endless sands of Prainha beach.  Look up at Christ the Redeemer the 98 feet tall, soapstone figure of Jesus Christ with its arms outspread, on top of Corcovado Mountain overlooking the City that is Rio.

I have exhausted myself decrying the corruption, poverty, filth, poverty, corruption, and more corruption and poverty and especially the most violent and yes, corrupt special police operations battalion called the BOPA, that lie just beneath the surface in Rio de Janeiro, in my previous writings, to no avail.

So allow me to don my sailor’s hat and bring up (not literally) the matter of the waters around those beautiful beaches.  This month the International sailors are gathering in Brazil for an Olympic test event.  They have discovered that the sea around Guanabara Bay where sailing, open water swimming and triathlon events during next year’s Olympic Games will take place, is still full of raw sewage The teams bosses are reporting dangerously high levels or viruses and bacteria.  The murky waters around Rio are literally an open sewer.

From Saturday, almost 400 sailors from 55 nations will compete in the 10 sailing events during the week long regatta, using six courses inside the Bay and three outside.  British and American athletes are taking extra supplements, vitamins and probiotics that hopefully will help strengthen the stomach and combat possible infections.  These aren’t expected to be swimming in this sewer that will be left to the open water swimmers and triathletes.

Olympic organisers, hearing warnings from people like me, promised that this situation would be taken care of in the run up to the Games and said that the amount of raw sewage flowing into the bay would be reduced by at least 80% in plenty of time for the August 5th-21st  Games next year.  They now admit that they will NOT be able to meet that target and have instead vowed to ensure that the race lanes are clean and clear! What?

Apart from human sewage the coastline around is littered with tyres, sofas, trees, branches and mountains of all kind of plastic detritus.  Floating debris is hazardous and could even prove fatal to a lightweight yacht travelling at racing speeds.  To go back to the polluted waters, biologists report that rivers leading into the bay contained superbacteria that was resistant to antibiotics that cure urinary, gastrointestinal and pulmonary infections.

I took part in the support team for the 1972 Munich Olympics where the sailing was held at Kiel and felt blessed that we were some distance away from and not involved in the massacre by Black September.  Next year’s Olympic sailors and swimmers might not be so lucky.  The difference is that next year’s ticking time bomb was foreseen and something could have been done about it.

Rio’s Mayor insists that in spite of hazardous water, displacement of the Favelas, rising Police violence, they are full speed ahead for Rio 2016.  Reports from Amnesty International state that 16% of homicides since 2010 have been committed by on-duty police officers.  They believe that the cause is a toxic cocktail of a corrupt, violent and ill-resourced police force, communities so poor and marginalised they are hardly visible and a criminal justice system that constantly fails to deliver justice and reparations for human rights violations.

What a fine choice of venue the Olympic Committee made!  If you are up to your neck in a sewer and surrounded by alligators, what should you do.  If it were left to me I don’t think that I would have got into the sewer in the first place.

Saturday 29th August 2015

Reported on BBC Sport:

Olympics 2016 News is coming in that a German Sailor is making Rio pollution claims , , , , , German sailor Eric Heil claims that he has contracted an infection after competing in the polluted waters which will host next years Rio Olympics.  There are photographs of the rotting flesh on his leg posted on Eric’s blog.

The German sailing team said Heil, who was third at a recent test event at the Guanabara Bay venue was told by a Berlin hospital that he had been infected by multi-resistant germs.

And . . . . . South Korean windsurfer Wonwoo Cho was taken to hospital during the week long test event suffering from similar symptoms as the German sailor . . . .

Oh bugger it! I can’t stop myself. . . . . . “I TOLD YOU SO” . . . . .  In 2012, 2014 and 2 days ago.  The waste from the main hospital where such infections come from are pouring untreated waste straight into Guanabara Bay.  Someone could die.

About Jake

Long retired travel writer, author and freelance journalist. Educated at Wolverton Grammar and Greenwich Naval College. Happily married since 1958, with a married son and daughter, a married granddaughter and an adult grandson. Hobbies rock-climbing, dinghy racing and ocean racing. Still regularly working out in the gym.
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