By Nick Butler

Pollution concerns on Guanabara Bay remains a major worry ahead of Rio 2016 ©AFP/Getty ImagesAction must be taken to move the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic sailing competition away from Guanabara Bay because of health risks posed by water pollution, the writer of an open letter has claimed.

Contamination, as well as high levels of rubbish on the Bay, have created storms of protest over the last few months, revived again in recent weeks after it emerged no boats have been brought to collect rubbish due to high costs.

Last week, Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes admitted they had "wasted the opportunity" to use the Games to make wider progress regarding environmental factors, with reducing water pollution by 80 per cent initially a major aim.

The letter, written by sailing blogger Glenn McCarthy, is addressed to the US Olympic and Paralympic Congressional Congress, and calls for recommendations to be made to other bodies, including the United States Olympic Committee, International Sailing Federation (ISAF), and International Olympic Committee (IOC) as well as Rio 2016 organisers. 

After laying out the scale of the sewage and other pollutants littering the Bay, it criticises various bodies for having failed to take sufficient action so far, before explaining how a move is still possible despite the Games being only 16 months away.

"There are other sites in Brazil two to four hours away from Rio that have held major sailing events successfully in open ocean waters away from a major city where expectations of water quality would be better," McCarthy claims.

The men's 470 fleet on the final day of action of Guanabara Bay ©AFP/Getty ImagesThe men's 470 fleet on the final day of action of Guanabara Bay ©AFP/Getty Images

There is virtually no chance of such a move happening, but the letter still provides a useful indication of how dissent is growing and overshadowing preparations. 

It follows similar criticism from athletes, officials and commentators from various other countries. 

IOC Rio 2016 Coordination Commission chair Nawal El Moutawakel claimed in February how they had received assurances from Brazilian officials that the Bay will be safe to compete in during the Games,.

A meeting on the issue was since held between ISAF and IOC officials, including the bodies respective Presidents, Carlo Croce and Thomas Bach.

A second test event is scheduled to take place between August 8 and 18 following one last year which, despite the pollution fear, was widely considered a success.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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