Olympic Athletes May Be Risking Their Lives By Going In Rio's Waters

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Last July, the Associated Press reported on the dangerously high levels of bacteria and viruses Olympic athletes will be exposed to when they wade into Rio's waterways at the 2016 games.

Initially, experts believed these dangers existed mostly in the shallow waters of Rio's shoreline.

Unfortunately, that's far from the truth.

According to the latest AP reports, Rio's Olympic water is just as dangerous in open water areas as it is near the shoreline.

What this means is a greater number of athletes will be at risk of contracting various diseases and sicknesses during competition.

Kristina Mena, an expert in risk assessment for waterborne viruses, reportedly said,

We're talking about an extreme environment, where the pollution is so high that exposure is imminent and the chance of infection very likely.

Mena added,

The levels of viruses are so high in these Brazilian waters that if we saw those levels here in the United States on beaches, officials would likely close those beaches.

Another key issue, aside from the water itself, is the World Health Organization and Brazilian and Olympic officials are content to only test the level of bacteria in Rio's waters, failing to acknowledge the potentially fatal viral levels.

According to reports, various scientific communities in the US and Europe claim there is no relation whatsoever between the amount of bacteria in the water and the viruses present.

Viruses and bacteria in Rio's waters could potentially cause respiratory illness, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as heart and brain disease.

Several athletes were already infected during training this past summer, including a German sailor who required the painful scraping of infection off his legs and hips.

It may be an honor to represent your country at the Olympics, but is it worth your life?

Citations: Rio water pollution stretches beyond shoreline, AP tests show (ESPN)