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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 6 August 2016
28 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 6 AUGUST 2016 SPORT COMMENT 9 771321 167062 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM ISSN 1321-1676 ‘What is that incredible new scent you’ve discovered?’ It’s all getting smelly in Rio A discarded sofa litters the shore of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, site of the sailing regatta at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. PHOTO: AAP VIA AP/SILVIA IZQUIERDO. GERARD PAPASIMAKOPOULOS The stadiums aren't finished, most of the teams are complaining, the Olympic Village will probably not be ready for the athletes (no wait, it actually isn't) and that's just for starters. My word, it must be time for the Olympic Games again. Now as much a part of the tradition of the Games as the lighting of the flame, this year's official torrent-of-bad-vibes-before-the-Olym-pic-Games-have-started event could well overshadow the much-lauded all-you-can-eat sports buffet that starts in Brazil on Saturday. Frankly, you'd be truly surprised if it didn't. If we thought that Greece cut it close and China went one better, then Brazil aren't just going in for a tight shave, they're actually digging into the skin. A scheduling and programming horror show, the run-up to Brazil's Olympic Games has been nothing short of shambolic. Even so, the noises emanating from the Olympics machine are understandably optimistic. "The last couple of days before the Olympic Games, there is always one issue or other to be solved. The Brazilians will solve it. You can already feel the Olympic energy here. We always had confidence in Brazil, in the Brazilians, that it will be a fantastic Olympic Games." Brave words from Thomas Bach, head of the International Olympic Committee, who landed in Rio in the final week before the start of the Games after major concerns were raised regarding the city's ability to host the massive event. And yet despite the flood of stories drenching any available media outlet with an even passing interest in the Games, there's one particular tale that continues to float to the top. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's all about the poop. A 16-month study commissioned by the Associated Press showed that the waters of Rio are heavy with poop. Yes, I said poop. Would one prefer fecal matter? Well, however you want to describe it, the smelly, rotten stuff, courtesy of the intestinal rollercoasters of Rio's residents and visitors, are very much the star of the Olympic Games so far and there is little doubt that they are in fact going for gold. With the first results of the Associated Press study published over a year ago showing that viral levels in the waters of Rio are 1.7 million times higher than those in the United States or Europe, you could guess what's coming next: "With viral concentrations as high as that, any swimmers or athletes ingesting 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". Speaking to the Associated Press, biomedical expert Valerie Harwood kept it short and simple: "Don't put your head under water." Quite. So where does one go from here? Well, seeing as a hearty flush is out of the question, for visitors, tourists and spectators it's really not that difficult: look at the pretty water, that's fine. Just don't go near it. Don't go swimming in it, don't go waist-deep-lightly-wetting-yourshoulders-and-waving-to-your-friends-on-the-beach-shouting-"it's really rather nice", don't even think about wetting your toes. For the athletes however, it could get rather tricky. And smelly. And disgusting. And sticky maybe? Fine, I'll stop, I was just thinking out loud. There will be sailing, windsurfing, long distance swimming, rowing and a host of other watery sports I'm forgetting and strangely, they all require the athletes to come into contact with the wet stuff. Funny that. And yes, we've already heard that precautionary steps are being taken. There will be special chemical treatments for oars, custom-made suits for all involved and more antibiotics and chemicals than you could ever fit on a post-apocalyptic wish list. But let's consider this for a moment if we could. At what point does an athlete just go "you know what? I think I'll pass on the Olympic poopskimming event, I'm good. You guys and gals just go ahead and compete among yourselves". Personally, I could see me going for something like this: Coach: Well Gerard, you look in great shape (note: I don't, work with me here) and there's every chance you could be heading for a medal this year in Rio. Me: Thanks coach, I feel great. Coach: Now, what do you want to do about the shots? Me: The what? Coach: The antibiotics shots. Me: Why would I want to take shots of antibiotics? Coach: Oh, didn't I tell you? You'll be swimming in poop in Rio. They've added this extra thing on the event. So it's antibiotics for the poop. Me: Huh. Is it too late to switch to squash? I'm sorry, but no number of gold medals is worth swimming, skimming or sailing in fecal matter. If it was indeed appealing on any level, as a bonus, let's say, on the whole water sports thing, then I'm sure that by now someone, ANYONE, would have said, proposed or implemented it. You see, there's a reason why we have doors on toilets. It's because it's a bit of a personal thing, our relationship with what it is that we produce through our lower regions. It's certainly nothing to brag about and it's surely not something you'd look at and say "hey, you know what would be really great next time we go to the sea (and/or pool)?". In closing, I offer this to the water-sport athletes taking part in this year's Olympic Games: Boys and girls, it's not too late. Grab your knees and go "oooh", invent a new type of sprain, miss your flight (and then the next one. And the next one. And the one after that), suddenly discover a long-lost relative that you must visit in a country very, VERY far from Brazil, just use anything that will stick. But for the love of all that is holy, don't swim, sail or float in Rio. Okay, you'd win a few medals. But then you'd come home and hang them on the mantelpiece and a few days later your significant other would ask you what that smell was and you would pin it on the dog.
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