Rio defends Olympic aquatic venues

Rio de Janeiro, Sep 17 (IANS) Officials in Rio de Janeiro have rebuffed claims from swimming’s world governing body FINA that aquatic events of the 2016 Olympic were being treated with “disrespect”.

In a letter sent to organisers on Monday and republished by media on Wednesday, FINA criticised the seating capacity of the main pool and warned that pollution posed a health risk in open water swimming events, reports Xinhua.

Rio’s city government released a statement late on Wednesday defending water quality and the decision to reduce the aquatic centre’s capacity from 18,000 to 13,000.

“The Rio Games are recognised for three fundamental principles: the creation of a legacy, responsible use of public funds and the ability to finish projects on time without building white elephants,” the letter said.

The FINA letter, which was signed by the body’s president Julio Maglione, comes just a month after several athletes reportedly fell ill during the Olympic sailing test event in Guanabara Bay.

It followed an investigative report that showed the bay’s waters have toxic levels of disease-causing viruses.

Rio officials have denied the allegations, saying their own tests show the water is safe for athletes.

Maglione accused mayor Eduardo Paes of “seriously damaging the image and value of FINA and its disciplines”.

“This situation is in clear disrespect for the FINA requirements concerning aquatic venues, and will negatively affect the safety conditions and the level of performances of our athletes,” the letter said.

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