A woman runs next to the trash that litters the Botafogo beach next to the Sugar Loaf mountain and the Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, July 30, 2016. An Associated Press investigation has found the waters where Olympians will compete in swimming and boating events next summer in South America's first games are rife with human sewage and present a serious health risk for athletes.
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
It has been well-documented that the conditions of Rio’s water prior to the Olympics were not ideal. While the country was unable to do anything about it, a Florida man said he's going to try.
Brad Funk, of Fort Lauderdale, is in Rio primarily to support his girlfriend, windsurfer Bryony Shaw from Great Britain. But he's using the rest of his time to try and help clean up the massive heaps of trash, debris and fecal matter polluting the water in the city, the Bradenton Herald reported.
"No Olympic medal should be won or lost because of trash in the water," he said. "Rio is my favorite place in the world to sail, and it would be a shame if the regatta was compromised by pollution."
Funk, who has missed out on making the U.S. Olympic sailing team in three attempts, said he has scooped around 800 pounds of trash out of the water.
"If I helped one person, I’ll be happy that I was useful to the Olympics," he told the Herald. "This is our playground. We all live on a water planet. We’ve got to pitch in and save the environment before it’s too late."
Funk said he spent thousands of his own dollars to hire a fishing boat captain who allows him to fill his boat with garbage bags of trash. "I'd give anything to sail in the Olympics," he said. "I hope people will see how beautiful this bay can be."
An Associated Press report found "disease-causing viral levels 1.7 million times higher than normal" in areas of the bay where Funk is sailing, the Herald added. Olympic officials maintain that it's safe for competition.