Olympic Effort

The world has learned that the International Olympic Committee, International Sailing Federation, and Rio 2016 decided to keep the sport of competitive sailboat racing in Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games.

This in spite of sailors from around the world calling for it to be moved to a safe clean water venue, media reporting on the horrible stench, brown water, diseases in the water, as well as floating trash, human corpses and dead animals creating obstacles.

It is impossible to imagine a field or indoor sport dealing with less than perfect conditions at the Olympic Games, much less deplorable conditions like this.  This is not what sailors look forward to.  We are a “clean” sport, burn little fossil fuels, use wind to power our craft, collect our refuse returning it to appropriate containers ashore.  We have holding tanks to collect and carry our toilet (head) wastewater to shore to pump out stations that go to wastewater plants for treatment.

And we protest as loud as we can when a country pours 7,000,000 of its human, industrial, hospital untreated wastewater into the world’s ocean every day of the year, along with its trash.  This is not who sailors are, this is not what we support.

But we do support it.  The officials we elected within the sport who are members of the International Sailing Federation are the ones who control the venue choice at the Olympics.  On our behalf, they decided to disgrace the sport by their complete inability to realize the human health impact, not just of the sailors, but the citizens of Rio de Janeiro.  They could have made a huge worldwide political statement bringing attention to such conditions, letting the world know that conditions like this are completely unnacceptable for competition.

They could have made an impact that sailing will not have conditions like this in future Olympics.  We learned that the International Sailing Federation allowed similar conditions in prior Olympics in Spain and China in the past.  The stage is set to continue holding future Olympics in fetid waters.  We lack real leadership, there’s no doubt about it.

We all know politicians don’t always do what the people who they represent want them to do, and this is a very solid case of that occurring.

I’m sorry for this.  I’m sorry I missed reporting on almost the entire sailing season on Lake Michigan taking up this Olympic Effort instead.  I’m sorry to have stopped guiding people to the entry points into sailing in this region.  At the same time, never will I be sorry for having tried to sway the officials trying to get them to change their minds and do the right thing and sadly watch them do the wrong thing.

– Glenn T. McCarthy


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