FISA pleased with health survey results from Rio World Rowing Junior Championships
The World Rowing Federation (FISA) staged the 2015 World Rowing Junior Championship regatta this past August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil which also served as the test event for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic rowing regatta.
Following the championships the FISA sports medicine commission carried out a survey of the national federations that participated to see if there were particular health issues around the event in light of the concern over water quality at the venue, Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon. FISA was pleased that the results showed that incidences of illness were much lower than compared to prior years’ events.
There were 54 national federations that participated at the championships bringing 567 competing rowers and about 350 team personnel (including coaches, team support and reserve rowers) to Brazil for the event. All 54 participating nations responded to the FISA survey with 40 national federations reporting no illness among their team members during or after the event; 13 reported one to five cases of illness; and one team reported more than five cases of illness. There were two medical substitutions made during the regatta.
"Whenever a group travels together to another country, there is always a higher risk of illness," said FISA executive director Matt Smith. "This can be for a variety of reasons including new foods being consumed, the impact of long haul flights as well as the affect of new surroundings and travelling with a large number of people. The level of illness at the Rio junior championships was lower than at many other junior championships."
One of the many factors that received attention around the regatta was the water quality at the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon venue. This lagoon is in the middle of an urban area and is known to be affected by pollution, the levels of which can increase from time to time after heavy rain. This is well documented on the publically available website of the Rio state government.
The lagoon water was tested every second day from one month before the World Rowing Junior Championships and then every day from one week before until the end of the regatta. In addition, water quality has been tested twice a week for many years at six different points on the lagoon. The testing followed World Health Organisation guidelines for determining the quality of water by measuring the presence of e-coli and total coliform. During the time of the championships, the water quality was well below the threshold of concern for secondary contact and was even below the threshold for primary contact.
The survey also noted that two rowers capsized in the lagoon during the regatta and a group of Dutch supporters swam in the lagoon following the junior men’s eight victory. None of these individuals became ill.
The survey therefore pointed out that the 2015 World Rowing Junior Championships took place in "very acceptable water quality conditions.” It went on to conclude that ”while it is regretful that any rower should fall ill and miss his or her chance to compete at a major event, the number of illnesses among the teams at this year’s event was very low when compared to prior years’ junior championships."
- World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines for safe recreational water environments: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/bathing/srwe1/en/
- Water quality measurements as carried out on the lagoon two times per week: www.rio.rj.gov.br/web/smac