The Singapore Sailing Federation (SSF) has revealed a series of precautionary measures aimed at preventing their competitors from falling ill when they compete during next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
It comes amid continued concerns about the state of the water at Guanabara Bay, where the sailing competitions will be held, which remains littered with rubbish and sewage.
The SSF’s sailors will be administered with seven different jabs in order to reduce their risk of illness while bottled water will be stored in cooler tanks on the boats to avoid contamination.
They will also be expected to clean their hands with anti-bacterial soap as soon as they have come out of the water and have been advised to keep their mouths closed during competition to lessen the chances of swallowing any of the polluted water.
According to Singaporean publication Today, the SSF have already begun testing the measures with the help of their appointed doctor Darren Leong.
“We have been keeping track of the conditions over at the bay for a long time and we have a medical strategy in place to prevent illnesses,” SSF President Ben Tan, also a member of World Sailing’s Medical Commission, said.
“Darren has been updated on the race conditions, and he has been keeping tabs for our sailors.
“We want the care of our Olympic sailors to be centralised and Darren has been drafting the medical guidelines and policies.
“By the time Olympics come, they can keep cool, act accordingly, and turn it into their advantage while other sailors get stressed out.”
The water at Guanabara Bay has been a constant thorn in the side of Rio 2016’s preparations for the Games and has attracted widespread criticism from the public and sailing’s world governing body.
The state of the water was thought to be behind South Korean windsurfer Cho Wonwoo falling ill and Germany’s Erik Heil suffering skin infections at a recent Olympic test event.
The Marina de Gloria, where the sailors will launch their attempts at the Olympic gold, has been the subject of scrutiny due to the high levels of pollution and objects floating in the water, despite a vow to use the Games as a catalyst to clean the water being a key part of Rio’s successful bid in 2009.
A study conducted earlier this year by Associated Press reported a “major risk” of athletes contracting illnesses.
“The water quality is quite bad, a little black, so it can really mess up anyone’s race if you’re not careful,” Singapore’s nacra 17 sailor Justin Liu said.
“It is quite worrying as you can’t really avoid contact with the water.
“The amount of rubbish is also an issue.
“We had races where we had all sorts of things caught on to our boat, and were lucky that we managed to avoid fallen trees and logs, which would have caused some damage.
“Outside the bay in the open water, it gets cleaner.
“Hopefully, these things won’t be an issue come the Olympics.”
- By Liam Morgan; this article was republished with permission from the original publisher Inside the Games www.insidethegames.biz