In case you needed another reminder why chemistry is real and important, look no further than the Rio Olympics competition pools: Olympic synchronized swimmers may not be able to compete as scheduled because the pools are too green to see in.
Given that the murky color of the water has resulted in visibility issues for athletes — particularly the synchronized swimmers who must be able to see underwater in order to perform — the discolored water in the water polo and synchronized swimming pool will be drained and replaced with practice pool water, the Washington Post reported.
Rio spokesperson Mario Andrada confirmed in a press conference on Saturday that the pools turned green because 80 liters of hydrogen peroxide — which neutralized the chlorine’s ability to keep the water clear and clean — were accidentally put into the water by a local contractor on Aug. 5, according to the Washington Post.
As for the diving pool, Rio organizers will only replace the pool filter because divers don’t need to see underwater the way synchronized swimmers do. Should both possible solutions not yield favorable results, Executive Director of the International Swimming Federation Cornel Marculescu said that the competition events will be relocated.
“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 OK,” Marculescu said in an interview with the New York Times. “If it’s not, we will be obliged to say, no more events in the pool. But we are not there yet.”
The water polo, synchronized swimming and diving pools in the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre began drawing attention last week when they turned a mysterious shade of green.
Though Rio organizers assured the public that they had the situation under control and the pools would return to normal by the following day, Rio spokesperson Mario Andrada apologized for “over-promising and under-delivering” on the status of the pools at a press conference on Saturday, according to the Washington Post.
There still remains one more week of diving, water polo and synchronized swimming competition events before the Rio Games finishes next Sunday.