If I’m an Olympic athlete involved in a water sport, I take next summer's games in Rio off for health and wellness purposes.

According to an Associated Press report, the waters in Rio, Brazil, are so contaminated with human feces that athletes will risk becoming violently ill and unable to compete in the games.

An AP analysis of water quality revealed dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage in Olympic and Paralympic venues — results that alarmed international experts and dismayed competitors training in Rio, some of whom have already fallen ill with fevers, vomiting and diarrhea.

It is the first independent comprehensive testing for both viruses and bacteria at the Olympic sites.

Brazilian officials have assured that the water will be safe for the Olympic athletes and the medical director of the International Olympic Committee said all was on track for providing safe competing venues. But neither the government nor the IOC tests for viruses, relying on bacteria testing only.

Extreme water pollution is common in Brazil, where the majority of sewage is not treated. Raw waste runs through open-air ditches to streams and rivers that feed the Olympic water sites.

According to the report, Olympic athletes are almost certain to come into contact with disease-causing viruses that in some tests measured up to 1.7 million times the level of what would be considered hazardous on an American beach.

To make matters worse, Brazilian officials have been pledging to clean up the mess for decades.

By Glenn Erby

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