Kitty Chiller says Aussie water athletes not worrying about Rio contamination threat

Australia’s gold medal sailors have been warned to avoid touching ropes with bare hands, swimmers to close their mouth under the filthy Rio de Janeiro waterways, while every Australian athlete have been prescribed probiotics to fight off contamination.

But as the rest of the world whinge about the possibility of some 1400 athletes falling violently ill, AOC chef de mission Kitty Chiller has a simple message — get on with it.

An Associated Press study has shown that iconic Ipanema and Copacabana beaches are laden with raw human sewerage, dangerous viruses and bacteria.

Just some of the issues sailors will have to face
Just some of the issues sailors will have to face

The results showed that swimmers and athletes who ingest just three teaspoons of water are almost certain to be infected with viruses that can cause stomach and respiratory — and more rarely heart and brain inflammation.

However, Chiller said Australia’s water-based athletes, including our world champion sailors, rowers, triathletes and open water swimmers, were not only equipped with an array of precautionary measures, they were refusing to worry about the obvious threat of falling ill.

“They’re just getting on with it,’’ Chiller said.

“They’re used to it and I think at this point in time, we ain’t going to change the water quality in the next week, so they’ll just get in and do their best.’’

Helicopters have been deployed each morning at 6am to fly over the Copacabana and Ipanema region in a bid to identify floating debris.

“They’ve also installed new pipes to take the sewerage out,’’ Chiller said.

“They’ve installed the nets to collect the rubbish, it’s been passed by the World Health Organisation and they’re doing water quality tests at eight different locations.

“(For us it’s) basic commonsense, health and hygiene really.

“Taking a shower as soon as they get out, washing their hands, not touching ropes or boats with bare hands. All the coaches are using gloves, there’s first aid kits in all the coaches boats, just basic health and hygiene protocols.

Kitty Chiller says athletes just need to get on with it.
Kitty Chiller says athletes just need to get on with it.

“Coming out of the water, it’s trying to not fall out of the boat and if they do fall out of the boat, keeping their mouth closed.

“Our synchronised swimming team arrive tomorrow, so I’m going to send them down to give them some hints on keeping their mouths closed under water.

“Our medical teams have supplied us all with all the necessary probiotics.’’

While local authorities including Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes have acknowledged the failure of the city’s water clean-up efforts, calling it a “lost chance” and a “shame,” Olympic officials continue to insist Rio’s waterways will be safe for athletes and visitors.