Human arm photographed floating in Rio Olympic sailing waters

Dead fish and sewerage have plagued the Rio waters and now human bodies and body parts are being highlighted as problems ...

Dead fish and sewerage have plagued the Rio waters and now human bodies and body parts are being highlighted as problems for the Olympic water-based events.

A human arm has been photographed floating in the waters of Rio de Janeiro's Olympic sailing venue.

Photos of the arm were sent to Brazilian website as environmental issues continue to be highlighted in the leadup to the Games which start in August.

The polluted waters in the Guanabara Bay area have drawn the most criticism with athletes falling ill during Olympic test events.

The reader who sent in the photograph said it wasn't the first time he had seen human remains in the water.

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"I've seen bodies floating at other times ... five years ago and another last year," said the contributor who wanted ot remain anonymous.

"It is absurd, but we have got used to see things floating in the bay. I've seen a lot of garbage, other objects and dead dogs," he said.

Biologist Mario Moscatelli, whose work has specialised in the ecosystems of Rio de Janeiro for over 25 years, said it wasn't unusual to see dead bodies floating in the Guanabara Bay area.

"I've seen whole bodies and have seen (them) in pieces," he said, though added that had reduced after increased police action in the crime-riddled city.

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"Perhaps the disposal of these bodies has become more difficult. Before I clearly remember it was common to find bodies in the Guanabara Bay."

Late last year news agency Associated Press initiated tests that showed the amount of virus registered more than one kilometre in Guanabara Bay was the same near the land where sewage flows.

Brazil sailor Martine Grael, who has been confirmed for the Rio Games, remains dismayed with the pollution problem in the leadup to sport's biggest event.

"It's very clear that water treatment and education are the biggest focus on cleaning the water, and I haven't seen almost anything being done in that way," Grael told ESPN in a special report on the problem published this week.

"I think Rio has a very big coastline and people love to go to the beach, but nobody seems to care that the beach is getting dirtier and dirtier.

"The water's still dirty and it stinks some days, and, I don't know. You don't need to study a lot to understand that it's not going well."

Rio's successful bid was based on a commitment to tackling the environmental issues, stating that 80 per cent of overall sewage would be collected and treated by 2016. It also pledged the "full regeneration" of the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, where rowing and sprint canoe/kayak events will be held.

But it seems even officials are waving the white flag when it comes to the ultimate goal of having clean waters.

"It's not going to happen because there was not enough commitment, funds and energy," Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada told ESPN.

"However, we finally got something that the bay has been missing for generations, which is public will for the cleaning.

"Nobody wants to have guests at their house and show a dirty house. So if we're not able to reach the target, we need to keep working until the last minute and make sure that the athletes can compete in safe waters, and we've been doing this."

 - Stuff


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