Jorge Briard, president of Rio de Janeiro's water utility, said on Wednesday that it will be impossible to meet the city's pledge to clear 80 percent of sewage and waste from the Guanabara Bay before the Olympic events begin there next year.
“Obviously, I'm not crazy enough to say that there aren't problems in the Guanabara Bay,” Briard told the Associated Press. “There are many problems.”
Briard said that the goals for water cleanup set in 2009 when Rio won its Olympic bid have not been met with the “speed we imagined six years ago.”
Despite acknowledging these issues, Briard said that Rio is making progress in the sewage collection process and that the water treatment of the bay would be “much better” by next August.
The water conditions in the bay have caused controversy, as some athletes have fallen ill after coming in contact with the polluted water. An AP investigation found extremely high levels of viruses in the waters.
Briard stressed that the water is safe for athletes, and said that acute diarrhea, which athletes who have had contact with the water have experienced, is a common sickness in daily Rio life.
The Olympic games are set to start on Aug. 5, 2016, and will end on Aug. 21.
- Erin Flynn