Concerns about contaminated waters in Rio de Janeiro, site of next summer's Olympics, took a new turn yesterday as 13 rowers and four staff members from the US rowing team contracted stomach illness after competing in a competition held in the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, a future Olympic site, the AP reports. The team doctor acknowledged that the gastrointestinal issues suffered by the team could have been from bad drinking water or some athletes not being diligent about hygiene, but she notes, "My personal feeling is, I think it's from the lake," which was described by one Swiss rower as being "smelly in a few places."
The US coach adds, "It just doesn't seem normal." She notes the team had taken precautions after hearing reports of possible water contamination, including "bleaching oar handles" and "immediately washing hands after coming off the water." A spokesman for the Rio Olympics organizing committee brushed off reports of water pollution, saying the symptoms witnessed by a doctor at the event were "class travel symptoms." (At least 50 tons of dead fish have been pulled from the lagoon in recent months.)