The International Olympic Committee once again expressed concern on Monday over the water pollution in Rio’s Guanabara Bay which will hold the Olympic sailing events in less than a year’s time.
The Rio state government had promised to cut pollution in the bay by as much as 80 percent but admitted in March that this goal would not be met, despite the pledge being a key part of the city’s Olympic bid documents and widely regarded as one of the legacies of hosting the Olympics.
Instead, local officials are now concentrating on clearing up the parts of the bay that will be used in competition, despite the Rio 2016 organising committee already confirming that those areas are already safe.
“We can see significant progress, at the same time we have asked the organising committee to convey our concerns with regard to the issues of the water quality we are still facing in Rio,” said Thomas Bach, President of the IOC.”
“The IOC executive board is watching this situation very closely and we are expecting more information and more reports by the time of our next meeting, next month in Kuala Lumpur.”
Olympic sailors are still steering clear of any talk about progress however, having described the bay as “an open sewer” and recounting stories of having to maneuver around dumped furniture and animal carcasses at a test event earlier this year.
“We are approaching major test events in August and we all need to see progress in this regard,” he added.
“I’m not an expert in water pollution, we have to leave it to the experts to tell us what is achievable, and in which time frame. These experts are telling us it is still achievable to have these competitions in safe water conditions and we have been advised today from the local organising committee that this advice has not changed.”
Meanwhile on the second day of the its executive board meeting in Lausanne, the IOC approved new events in alpine skiing, snowboarding, speed skating and curling for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in a bid to attract younger audiences to the winter Games.
A ‘Big Air’ event in snowboarding, a team event in alpine skiing, a mass start in speed skating and a mixed doubles in curling will all feature on the new programme, while the parallel snowboard event was dropped from the competition schedule.
Bach also urged the organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to decide on plans for the new national stadium as soon as possible. Questions are being raised whether or not to keep the retractable roof which would significantly increase the cost of construction.
“This is an issue for the national government to deal with,” Bach reiterated. “We think this issue should be solved as soon as possible because Tokyo has so much positive news to spread that we do not want a discussion about the stadium to overshadow the excellent progress being made.”
“It’s in everyone’s interest not to have this dragging on, we are confident that the national government will find a solution pretty soon.”