By Nick Butler

Alex Maloney and Molly Meech have become the latest to slam the Guanabara Bay course ©AFP/Getty ImagesRio 2016 are inviting sailors competing in next week's test event to personally test pollution levels in the much criticised waters of Guanabara Bay in the "interests of transparency", it has been revealed. 

This comes after world champion New Zealanders Alex Maloney and Molly Meech slammed pollution levels in the Bay following their arrival for the week-long test event, due to begin on August 2. 

The duo, reigning world champions in the 49erFX class, a boat due to make its debut on the Olympic programme in Rio de Janeiro, said they they have their fingers crossed that they will avoid illness when they compete there.

"The scenery is breath-taking, with the mountains that surround the bay and steep cliffs leading into the water," they wrote on a blog for sponsors Red Bull.

"You can just imagine what Rio would have looked like when the explorers first found it, before humans inhabited the bays, it must have been a luscious, beautiful paradise, where we have been told whales once had their breeding grounds." 

"Unfortunately, with the hillside Favelas, comes the run off of human waste, and the once clean water now looks not so appealing with rubbish swimming in it and the water taking on a dirty brown colour.

"We have our fingers crossed that all of our team makes it out of Rio without getting sick!"

Garbage and sewage levels are thought to remain high on the Guanabara Bay course ©Getty ImagesGarbage and sewage levels are thought to remain high on the Guanabara Bay course ©Getty Images

Pollution levels has been one of many major concerns for the Games organisers in recent months, with Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes admitting last month that plans to clean up to 80 per cent of water across the entire Bay will now not be met.

Last November, it was revealed Guanabara Bay has 78-times Brazil's legally allowed limit of fecal pollution, and 195-times the US limit, and, numerous figures from the sailing world claiming the venue is simply unfit for top-level competition.

Earlier this year International Sailing Federation (ISAF) head of competitions Alastair Fox admitted to insidethegames that holding the test event  would be "difficult" as planned measures to deal with the pollution would not have come into operation.

But it has repeatedly been insisted the specific area of the Bay used for the competition will be safe, with the State Government, who are responsible for controlling pollution, having deployed 10 cleaning boats to collect garbage on the course.

A Rio 2016 spokesman has now told Bloomberg that, in the interests of transparency, they are inviting any team that wants to test the water to do so.

Earlier this year, preparations for the first South American Games appeared to be reaching a crisis point, with International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates even claiming they were the worst-prepared in his memory

Improvement has been made in recent months, seen by the belated beginnings of construction at the second main Games hub at Deodoro, as well as the better-than-anticipated success of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Yet much more work has to be made over the next two years if the Games are to be as successful, and ensuring the smooth running of the test event next week will be an important first goal for Rio 2016.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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