31 Aug 2016

How Danish athletes coped with contaminated waters at the Rio Olympics

The National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark took extra steps to help ensure the best possible results for Danish athletes at the Rio Olympic Games.

© www.rio2016.com
© www.rio2016.com

Athletes competing in sailing, rowing, kayaking and in triathlon events at the Rio Olympics 2016 were at a great risk of getting infections and diarrhoea from the contaminated waters. Our experts stepped in to advise them on health risk assessment as well as to provide interactive maps of the currents.

The competitions were all held at mouth of Guanabara Bay, where the water is suspected to be contaminated with treated and untreated waste water.

The Danish Olympic Committee welcomed our expert advice as a team from DHI had examined the water quality and identified the most risky areas around Guanabara Bay. Based on this information, DHI was able to produce a document, which advised the athletes on preventive actions they could take to reduce the risk of an infection.

“We were a little concerned about the health risks one year before the games. But we were then educated about preventive behaviour – such as washing hands, rinsing our legs and protecting the water bottles in the boats from the seawater. This knowledge enabled us to focus on other things”,

says Kristian Kjærgaard, Head Coach from The Danish Sailing Association. 

With the Rio Olympic Games now having come to an end, we were happy to see that our advice proved helpful and none of the athletes had caught any infections from the oceanic bay.

Mapping the currents for sailors

The Danish sailing team further benefitted from DHI’s knowledge of currents in the Guanabara Bay. The currents are complicated and greatly influenced by the tidal forces of the Atlantic Ocean. We provided dynamic maps of the currents during the period of the competitions in order to help the Danish sailors on the ever-changing conditions.

The current maps were ideal in this case and were used intensively by all the Danish sailing coaches. Kristian Kjærgaard elaborates:

“Each morning we would sit down and go through the currents of the day. We were able to see a simulation of the currents’ movement throughout the day on our iPads. This was a definite advantage for us – and something our competitors did not have.”

We are proud to say that we helped the Danish athletes win five medals in the disciplines in open water at the Rio Olympic Game.

Congratulations to all winners at the Rio Olympics!