The murky green water caused eye irritation for athletes.

Victoria Tunggono   15 August 2016 12:36 - Last Tuesday, people got curious because the Olympic diving pool at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center in Rio de Janeiro has turned into a shade of green instead of the normal clear blue. The next day, the water polo pool also turned greener and murkier.

“The most important issue is to be sure that the water quality does not affect the health and safety of the athletes, which is why we’re conducting tests throughout the day to make sure everything is O.K.,” said the executive director of International Swimming Federation (FINA), Cornel Marculescu in an interview with NBC Olympics. “If it’s not, we will be obliged to say, no more events in the pool. But we are not there yet.”

But days went gone by without a solution and things got so bad that athletes were complaining about eye irritation. By Thursday evening the underwater visibility had been reduced to zero and by Friday morning diving practice was canceled, which made dozens of athletes “dry practice” indoors.

"To change the color of the water is going to take a long time due to the amount of water in the pool,” Marculescu said.

“The process is complex.”

The two pools are closed and the events had to be moved to a different location, while the water polo pool had to be drained completely and refilled with water from a nearby practice pool.

Still, it is strange that the officials are helpless couldn’t figure out what caused the problem. The officials have several different diagnoses though, from “a proliferation of algae” due to “heat and lack of wind” to “a sudden decrease in the alkalinity in the diving pool” caused by too many people using it.

Mario Andrada, the Rio 2016 committee spokesman explained, “The reason is that the water must be still so the pool can return to its blue color as soon as possible.”

He continued saying they could fix the problem “easier and faster” without any athletes in the pool, but until the afternoon the water had not returned to the desired hue and the diving pool was reopened anyway for the first individual diving event, the women’s 3-meter springboard preliminaries.

Backing up Andrada’s excuses, Marculescu said that faulty filtration that messed up “the very sophisticated chemical combination” in the water and blamed the trouble on poor oversight by officials in charge of the venue. “The quality of the water through the filters and the treatment of the water in the filters was inadequate,” Marculescu said.

“It’s like the worst excuse ever,” said Sean Johnson, president of the New York franchise of a pool-maintenance company American Pool New York, as quoted from NBC Olympics. He believed the cause to be copper or other metals in the water that had been oxidized by the addition of chlorine, as it is a common problem in pools around New York. “As soon as you fill it up, it’s blue. You start to add chlorine to it, it turns green.”

Johnson suggests that the pool handlers should have added a chemical known as a sequestering agent that counteracts the effects of the metals. But there aren’t any solution nor progress done in the Rio pools, and there are diving events scheduled to take place at the pool through Day 15 of the Olympics.

The director of venue management for Rio 2016, Gustavo Nascimento, said the entire operation will take at least 10 hours: six to drain the green water out of the pool and four to bring in the fresh clean water using pumps and hoses. He promised it should be completed by 7 a.m. Sunday, only four hours before the scheduled start of the first synchronized swimming event of the games.

Meanwhile a larger pool had been used for water polo preliminary games, which was scheduled all along to move to the 15,000-seat Olympic Aquatics Stadium after the final session of swimming Saturday night. It took no time that the Internet made jokes out of the incident. Even the divers posted on their social media, like what the German diver Patrick Hausding did. He posted a picture of him and other divers with green skins, with a hashtag #adaptation to quip the pool situation.



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