By Lisa Flueckiger, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Accompanying the sailing test event from last week (August 15th-22nd), a task force with eco-boats collected 28 tons of floating rubbish in Guanabara Bay in an effort to clean the waters for the competition. The task force is part of Rio’s state government new plan to clean floating waste in the bay.
Around 3.5 tons of floating rubbish where removed from Guanabara Bay’s waters on average on every day of the sailing competition, increasing the safety of the athletes and ensuring the smooth running of the test event. Ten eco-boats were used, as well as satellite images guiding the boats and ecobarriers to trap the floating waste.
“We are very pleased with the result. We spoke with leaders of the federations and athletes and can say that the overall feedback of the test event was positive. There is still much work to be done until the Games, but the State Government continues to invest in various revitalization projects of Guanabara Bay,” State Secretary of Staff, Leonardo Espíndola, stated.
The collection of rubbish at the test event was the beginning of a new project by Rio’s state government aiming at implementing a system, which hinders 95 percent of all rubbish to enter the waters of the bay.
“The big challenge is to first stop dirtying [the waters], in order to manage to clean [them]. Zero waste does not exist in any bay in the world. This system will be the legacy for the bay in the post-Olympics [period],” State Secretary for Environment, André Correa, added.
Despite the effort, some competitions of the sailing event had to be moved to waters outside the bay and further away from Marina da Glória, because of objects in the water. However, according to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) this is a normal procedure.
“Sailing as a sport has six planned courses for the Rio Olympics. It is very common to move between courses (due to) wind – too little or too much – debris, shipping movements, etc.,” ISAF spokesman Malcolm Page had told AFP in an email.
In general, the federation and organizers were very happy with how the test event went and have shown confidence in Guanabara Bay as a venue for competition.