Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic have been bringing attention to the Rio Water Pollution crisis on their ESPN Radio talk show, Mike And Mike. During their show this morning, they talked to USOC Representative Anita DeFrantz. DeFrantz won an Olympic rowing bronze medal at the 1976 Olympics and also qualified for the 1980 US Olympic Team. She currently serves on the United States Olympic Comittee’s Board of Director’s and is also on the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board.
When the United States decided to boycott the 1980 Olympics, DeFrantz sued the United States Olympic Committee for preventing American athletes from competing in the Summer Olympics. She believed the USOC exceeded it’s statutory powers and took away her constitutional rights.
DeFrantz was an outspoken critic of the boycott and with her law background was an eloquent spokesperson for the athletes. Though the lawsuit didn’t change anything, one congressman commented that he was highly impressed by her presentation and would welcome her in any law firm. For her support of the Olympic movement, in 1980 she became only the second American athlete to receive the Bronze Medal of the Olympic Order from the International Olympic Committee.
During her interview on Mike and Mike this morning, DeFrantz said that she is at least 75% comfortable with the situation.
“The problem is in the bay not the lagoon. Junior rowers got sick from swimming in the bay not from swimming in the lagoon where they row.”
She continued by telling Mike and Mike that the IOC still has temporary solutions available.
“They’ll use booms to temporarily improve the water, similar to those used in oil spills. They believe they can improve the water by 80%”
She said the organizing committee will definitely have back up plans.
“There’s always plan b and plan c for organizing committees for security, safety, and any number of other reasons.”
She also addressed the water pollution levels in the bay and in the lagoon. Open water swimming and sailing are in the bay. Rowing is in the lagoon.
“We are working on it. We are very aware of the problem. It was a problem the day the city was elected to host the games. We were told the city was going to deal with it. Unfortunately the government money didn’t come through.”
When asked if she will make sure the Americans don’t have to choose between dirty water or missing the Olympics, she said:
“For the 4 weeks they can (mitigate the problem). I will do my very very best so that no athlete will ever have to make that choice at the Olympic Games.”