Human body parts recently washed up on Copacabana Beach next to the Olympic beach volleyball arena. In addition to volleyball, the area will host marathon swimming.
And there are significant health concerns related to sporting events in Guanabara Bay, a major black eye on Rio's Olympic project that has set off alarm bells among sailors, rowers and open-water swimmers. Debris in the bay includes large furniture and plenty of plastic bags. Rain has flushed more raw human sewage teeming with dangerous viruses and bacteria into the bay.
An Associated Press survey revealed the problem to be so extreme that swimmers and athletes who ingest just three teaspoons of water are almost certain to be infected with viruses that can cause stomach and respiratory illnesses and more rarely heart and brain inflammation.
Athletes are coping the best they can by, among other things, taking antibiotics, bleaching oars and wearing plastic suits and gloves in a desperate effort to limit contact with the water. Dr. Valerie Harwood, the chair of the department of integrative biology at the University of South Florida, gave this advice, "Don't put your head underwater," and said swimmers risk "getting violently ill."