By Nick Butler

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes has admitted that overall targets regarding the reduction of water pollution in Guanabara Bay will not be met ©Getty ImagesRio de Janeiro will not keep its bid promise of cleaning polluted Guanabara Bay in time for the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, the city's Mayor Eduardo Paes has admitted.

But he claims the sailing venue on the Bay will be fit for action to take place.

Cleaning the bay in the East of Rio de Janeiro was an important part of bid for the Games in 2009, and even as recently as March this year, Rio 2016 communications director Mario Andrada claimed to insidethegames environmental improvement, beyond merely the competition venues, would still be a "major legacy" of the Games.

But there has been huge criticism of these plans in recent months, with reports that almost 70 per cent of sewage in the waters remains untreated and that the Bay remains inundated with physical debris.

Behind the scenes there has seemingly been a shift in approach towards focusing only on reducing levels in the specific competition areas, with Rio State Environment Secretary Carlos Francisco Portinho admitting, in a letter to Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo seen by Associated Press, it will take over a decade to significantly reduce pollution levels.
Paes, however, has now publicly admitted that their promise of reducing pollution levels across the entire bay by 80 per cent will be broken.

"I am sorry that we didn't use the Games to get Guanabara Bay completely clean, but that wasn't for the Olympic Games - that was for us," Paes said.

"That was something that we could not accomplish that was in the Bid Book."

There have been numerous reports of high sewage levels, as well as physical debris, in the Bay ©Getty ImagesThere have been numerous reports of high sewage levels, as well as physical debris, in the Bay ©Getty Images

Pollution levels in Guanabara Bay, as well as in the other water sport venues in Copacobana Bay and the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, have been one of many concerns faced recently by Rio 2016, along with construction delays at many other venues.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Director Gilbert Felli admitted last month construction is running two years behind schedule, while IOC vice-president John Coates claimed in April that preparations were the worst he had experienced in his long association with the Games.

The fact that a sailing test event is due to begin on August 2 this year, the first to be held in any sport, deems these concerns extra-important, with International Sailing Federation (ISAF) head of competitions Alastair Fox having admitted to insidethegames that holding the event so soon will be "difficult" as planned measures to deal with the pollution will not have come into operation.

The Mayor, however, claimed he is "not afraid for the health of any of the athletes because it is going to be fine".

At a time when Rio de Janeiro, along with the rest of Brazil, is focused predominantly on preparations for the FIFA World Cup starting on Thursday (June 12), Paes also reiterated his general confidence that the Games will be a success.

"We really do believe that we are on time, and that we are going to deliver great Games," he said.

"Lots of public money is being saved to build the Olympic values and the legacy we want to deliver.