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Rio 2016 IOC defends Guanabara Bay water quality

The International Olympic Committee has defended the water quality at Guanabara Bay.

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play (Omni Sports)

The IOC has defended the quality of the water at Guanabara Bay for Rio 2016.

It was reported up to 17 members of a junior American rowing team - including competitors and coaches - fell ill last weekend, after Olympic Games test events in Rio de Janeiro.

With implications strong the surroundings were at fault for the illness that swept the group, IOC executive director Christophe Dubi moved to quell the theory the notorious stretch of water - long thought to be Olympic organisers' biggest issue - was the issue.

"[U.S Rowing said] there was no evidence that it was connected to the water," Dubi told a news conference in Rio on Wednesday.

"So they are very clear with that. Then FISA [International Rowing Association]... also declared that if they compare the number of cases to any other event, and they have very frequent ones the number of athletes being sick is about the same. They didn't see a peak with that one so it seems to be a normal situation."

Dubi added that the attention garnered from the Olympics' use of the stretch of water - of approximate surface 412 square kilometres - would benefit Brazilians in the long term.

"The way we sit is that thanks to the Games, first the level of awareness regarding the bay has been raised to an unprecedented level which is, in itself, a good thing," he said.

"Then there are a number of actions that have been undertaken and, from now until the Games, this will continue.

"Eco-barriers, eco boats and different measures including a new station for treatment [have been flagged]. All this is ongoing. So from now until the Games, the quality of water will continue to be monitored and shall improve and this movement will not stop.

"It will continue until the Games. It will continue after the Games and this is a very good thing."

Dubi added Rio 2016 will abide by the World Health Organisation's guidelines to maintain constant testing of the water quality, in the lead up to the Games - which are less than one year from starting.

"The WHO is very clear that bacterial testing is what should be followed. Their guidelines are very clear. They have stated that bacterial testing is the measure that has to be used and will continue to be used by the authorities," said Dubi, who joined the executive in January 2014.

"So as far as we are concerned we have received confirmation from them it will continue to be the case and it is the best measure to be used.

"We have also asked whether with these measures and this testing we could ensure the quality of water for the athletes and preserving safety - and the answer is yes.

"We will continue to do this testing at the level of the authorities."

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