Rio's Olympic Site Looks Even Worse From the Air

A few months ago, we published a set of shocking photos from the shores of the heavily polluted Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro—which also happens to be the site chosen for water sports at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. Well, the situation is clearly even worse when seen from the air.

Global Post author Rachel Glickhouse accompanied a biologist and a photographer on a flyover of the Rio waterways in order to get a glimpse of the area's real status, where approximately 400,000 tourists and football fans are going to be wandering around during the 2014 FIFA World Cup next month. And they found a terrible sight.

Biologist Mario Moscatelli, who has been monitoring Rio's waterways for decades, calls the bay a "real latrine," despite the fact that more than a billion dollars have been spent to clean up Guanabara over the past 20 years. The environmental degradation has simply worsened, says the biologist. "In Rio, if you're going to the beach, you're going to sewage," added Daniel Becker, a pediatrician and the founder of the nonprofit Center for Health Promotion in Rio.

These are the main problems that have persisted for decades and that need to be eliminated within two years:

  • only around 40 percent of sewage is treated, and the rest ends up in the city's water
  • between 80 and 100 tons of trash end up in the Guanabara Bay every day
  • 12 locations along beaches in Zona Sul are unsafe for swimming
  • health problems from exposure to fecal matter can happen to anyone, especially at the beach
  • Hepatitis A is often transmitted through sewage exposure
  • raw sewage can also cause diarrhea, microbial diseases, and parasites
  • sewage attracts insects and rats, which can then transmit diseases
  • raw sewage can contaminate drinking water when it rains

These problems can be seen even from a bird's eye view:

Rio's Olympic Site Looks Even Worse From the Air

Rio's Olympic Site Looks Even Worse From the Air

Rio's Olympic Site Looks Even Worse From the Air

Rio's Olympic Site Looks Even Worse From the Air

Rio's Olympic Site Looks Even Worse From the Air

Rio's Olympic Site Looks Even Worse From the Air

Rio's Olympic Site Looks Even Worse From the Air

Image credit: All photos by Eliseu Cavalcante exclusively for Global Post, republished here with permission.