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German sailor Erik Heil has been hospitalized in Berlin and undergone surgery to treat inflammation and skin infections after competing in Rio de Janeiro’s polluted Guanabara Bay. According to a post on the German Sailing Federation’s website, Heil contracted a multiresistant germ during a test event earlier this month.
Here is the full statement, roughly translated from German:
I have never in my life had inflammation in the legs. Never! I assume that I got it in the test regatta. The polluter is probably the Marina da Gloria, in the unrestrained sewage flow. In the future, we will make sure that we are relatively late arriving to Rio, so in the case that diseases break out, [we won’t get sick] until the end of the race or at home. In addition, [my sailing partner] and I will consider sailing with plastic coatings from the port and then further out to attract the normal neoprene shoes. Also, I’m sure that for all still coming, Rio inserts a team doctor for the German sailors to fly along to treat diseases directly.
The blog post contains some hard-to-look-at photos of Heil’s infection.
From the Berliner Morgenpost, you can see some of the damage Heil has suffered:
Heil’s hospitalization is the most recent instance of an Olympic athlete falling ill after competing in the water, which the AP reported was teeming with viruses and pollution. On August 20, a South Korean wind surfer was hospitalized, and earlier this summer 13 US rowers got sick after a test event.
Rio has promised to have treated 80% of the streams and sewers flowing into Guanabara Bay by 2016. However, as the Guardian reported, the current level of treatment is only at about 50%, and is unlikely to improve significantly between now and August 5, 2016 — the date of the opening ceremony.
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