Rio Races to Clean Up This Sea of Trash Before the Olympics

Rio de Janeiro's Guanabara Bay was once rich in diverse aquatic life but has been profoundly damaged by decades of abuse. Thousands of tons of garbage and raw sewage are pumped into its rivers and waterways every day. Now, with the 2016 Olympic Games approaching, the city is in a race against the clock to clean it up.
The bay will be the venue for the Games' sailing events, but state officials have said they won't be able to fulfill the promise they made in their Olympic bid to clean it up in time for the races. An Austrian sailor last year recalled for Tariq Panja of Bloomberg News a 2013 race in Rio de Janeiro that featured a flotilla of garbage including plastic chairs and tables. "You couldn’t go to the left because you had to stop three times afterward to get the trash off your center board and rudder," he said.
Photographer: Christophe Simon/AFP via Getty Images
Work is under way to deal with a sanitation problem as old as the state of Rio, where 16.3 million people live.
Photographer: Felipe Dana/AP Photo
Dead fish and trash float in Guanabara Bay. Rio's Jacarepaguá and Rodrigo de Freitas lagoons are also suffering from chronic pollution. Both will play a part in next year's Summer Olympics.
Photographer: Leo Correa/AP Photo
Polluted water makes its way to Barra Beach in Rio. The bay often smells like a clogged toilet, and is so polluted that local rowing coach Fabio Araujo won’t take on students who haven’t been vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, Bloomberg News reported last year.
Photographer: Felipe Dana/AP Photo
In 2007, of the 8.5 million people who lived around the bay, 85 percent didn't have sewage systems connected to their homes. As of last year, around 40 percent, or 3.2 million people, had access to basic sanitation.
Photographer: Felipe Dana/AP Photo
A beach on Governor's Island, near the airport, in Rio de Janeiro. In June 2014, the mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes, said the city wouldn't be able to honor its Olympic-bid pledge to improve the water by 80 percent for the Games.
Photographer: Diego Assis/Agencia Estado via AP Photo
Workers are removing tons of dead fish killed by pollution from Rio's Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, which will be the venue for the canoeing sprint and rowing events.
Pacific Press
The Guanabara Bay shore in the Caju neighborhood.
Photographer: Leo Correa/AP Photo
A pig forages by the Cunha canal, which flows into Guanabara Bay.
Photographer: Christophe Simon/AFP via Getty Images
Botafogo Beach, on the south side of Rio.
Photographer: Bruno de Lima/Agencia O Dia via AP Photo