Since the upcoming Olympic Games are being held in the summer, we will unfortunately not have the chance to see the most riveting and nail-biting of all sports—curling.
You would think that, at the very least, they should modernize the game, if only for efficiency. For some reason, the fans seem to like it:
But, not as much as this:
Since it's not winter, and the waters surrounding Rio are so putrid that they make the Gowanus Canal (1) look like Perrier, if you happen to be one of the unfortunate competitors who will be in the water (2), the odds of catching something that will turn your innards into Mount Vesuvius are roughly 100 percent.
So, why not make the best of a bad situation? Instead of curling, why not add hurling? Multiple medals could be awarded: Distance, volume, style? Endless possibilities.
The situation isn't all that funny. We've known for months that the waters surrounding Rio are foul, but "foul" doesn't even begin to describe what is growing in there, and how much of it there is.
Let's take a look at some of the hideous pathogens that 1,400 athletes, will be exposed to while competing in the water. Pretty scary stuff, especially since it has been estimated that ingestion of a couple of ounces of the water is "almost certain" to make an athlete sick.
- Adenoviruses- A family of viruses that can cause multiple symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, pneumonia, and pink eye. There is no vaccine, nor are there any antiviral drugs that treat adenovirus infections. The Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, where the rowing competition will take place was found to have an astronomical 1.7 billion adenovirus particles per liter of water in March 2015. By comparison, a study, of various bodies of water in Southern California reported adenovirus concentrations ranging from 880 to 7,500 per liter of water.
- Norovirus- Incorrectly called the "stomach flu," (it has no relation to influenza), norovirus is considered to be one of the most (if not the most) contagious pathogen in the world. As few as 10-100 norovirus particles have been estimated to be sufficient for people to become infected. The primary method of spread is fecal to oral. (Outbreaks are typically seen in restaurants when a food handler who caught the bug returned to work too soon.) So, fecal matter from hundreds of thousands of people is going untreated into the water. What could possibly go wrong? There is no vaccine or drug for norovirus.
- Rotavirus- Similar symptoms to norovirus, but more likely to infect children. There are very effective rotavirus vaccines available.
- Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)- One of the most antibiotic resistant bacteria in the world (superbugs). It can cause meningitis, gastrointestinal and urinary tract infections. Worse still, it can infect the blood (sepsis). The mortality rate for CRE sepsis is 50 percent.
- E. Coli- A very common intestinal bacteria. It is used as a surrogate marker, indirectly measuring the concentration of fecal pathogens. Most strains are harmless, but there is one called O157: H7, which can cause severe infections that are sometimes fatal.
- Typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A. Need I go on?
It is difficult to imagine how these games are not going to be a huge mess, both figuratively and literally. The International Olympic Committee, which has long been regarded as having ethical standards that are comparable to MS-13 (3) isn't likely to improve its image in Rio:
(Please be sitting down for this one)
"We would never, ever risk the health or the condition of any athlete for a competition, said Mario Andrada, chief spokesman for the local Olympic organizing committee. "So the health of the athletes is our first priority."
Well that's gonna be tricky:
In the absence of any guidance from the IOC, athletes who are unfortunate enough to have to compete in any sport that involves the ocean will have to take their advice from Dr. Valerie Harwood, a microbiologist from the University of Southern Florida: "Don't put your head under water." (4)
No, I'm not kidding. That is real. The straight poop.
(1) The Gowanus Canal is a New York joke. It is a two-mile waterway that runs through Brooklyn. It is considered to be one of the most polluted bodies of water in the US.
(2) It's not just the water. Health officials are concerned that even sitting on the beach could make you sick because of viruses in the sand.
(3) MS-13 is regarded as the most dangerous gang in the world.
(4) Other equally useful suggestions:
- Do not juggle running chainsaws.
- If given the option of putting sulfuric acid drops in your eye, politely decline.
- Do not set up a Scrabble game on the Acela tracks.
- Should you feel compelled to launch a bottle rocket from your anus, at least make sure it is pointing the right way.