USOC collecting data on polluted Rio Olympic water venues

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The U.S. Olympic Committee has been collecting data regarding the state of pollution in the Rio Olympic outdoor water venues and determining precautionary measures for American athletes.

Not one water venue for the Rio Olympics is safe for swimming or boating, according to an Associated Press investigation into water quality a little more than one year before the Games.

USOC chief of sport performance Alan Ashley said he’s aware of the report and that the welfare of the athletes is his highest priority.

“I’ve actually been thinking about this and paying very close attention to it for quite some time,” Ashley said Thursday, adding later that he would hypothetically canoe in those waters.

Ashley did not mention specific measures being taken in advance of Olympic test events and qualifiers in triathlon, sailing and open-water swimming scheduled for August in Rio.

“It’s mostly just collecting data,” Ashley said.

Athletes at the three water venues shared by canoeing, sailing, rowing, triathlon, open-water swimming have a 99 percent chance of infection if they ingested three teaspoons of water, a U.S. expert in risk assessment for waterborne viruses told the AP.

“What you have there is basically raw sewage,” John Griffith, a marine biologist at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project said after examining the AP tests, according to the report. “It’s all the water from the toilets and the showers and whatever people put down their sinks, all mixed up, and it’s going out into the beach waters. Those kinds of things would be shut down immediately if found here [in the U.S.].”

In April, an International Sailing Federation official threatened to have the Olympic sailing events moved from Rio’s Guanabara Bay if action wasn’t quickly taken to clean it after a “super bacteria” was found in the bay.

Rio officials pledged last spring and winter that the water quality will be improved and ready for competition next summer. The AP reported that it tested for viruses, while the government and the International Olympic Committee rely on bacteria testing only.

U.S. Olympic Sailing managing director Josh Adams said Thursday that US Sailing continues to view the Olympic venue at Guanabara Bay as a safe place to sail.

“We’ve been training in Rio for several years without incident,” Adams said in a phone interview, one week before he travels to Rio to prepare for an Olympic test event with a full team of U.S. sailors. “We’ve gained valuable experience in Guanabara Bay. We’ve been monitoring the situation and encourage efforts to clean up the bay.”

Adams, who hasn’t been to Rio since last August’s test event, said he’s not aware of any U.S. sailors not wanting to compete at Guanabara Bay.

“There are concerns about water pollution in Guanabara Bay, as we’ve been well aware of for several years,” Adams said. “There’s really two issues. There’s the contents of the water, the actual water itself, and then there’s debris in the water. … They’re really two separate issues. We’re satisfied that organizers are working to control the amount of debris.”

Adams said there’s been no change since last August’s test event in Rio in the preventative measures U.S. sailors have been advised to take before traveling to Brazil or competing in Guanabara Bay.

“Our medical experts who we count on for their expertise in the subject, they made some recommendations, and we still follow those recommendations,” he said.

An Olympic triathlon qualifying event in Rio de Janeiro is Sunday, featuring U.S. gold-medal favorite Gwen Jorgensen.

“Athlete safety is always of the utmost importance to USA Triathlon, and we take this situation very seriously,” USA Triathlon CEO Rob Urbach said in a statement. “We are in direct conversation with our athletes and listening closely to any concerns. We will continue to work collaboratively with all involved organizations and federations to help protect the health of those competing at the Olympic and Paralympic test events in Rio. We have been assured by applicable regulatory bodies that the water quality meets required standards. As part of our overall efforts, we are offering a preventative medical management plan on-site to all of our athletes.”

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Six months to Tokyo Paralympics: Ten athletes to watch

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Ten Paralympic hopefuls to watch, six months out from the Tokyo Games Opening Ceremony on Aug. 25 …

Chuck Aoki (Rugby)
The U.S.’ top scorer, but still looking for a Paralympic title after bronze and silver medals in 2012 and 2016. Aoki’s father’s family is from Japan, immigrating to the U.S. in the early 1900s. His great-grandparents and grandparents were placed in World War II internment camps. Aoki switched from wheelchair basketball to rugby after seeing the 2005 Oscar-nominated documentary “Murderball.” He has been on the national team since 2009.

Shingo Kunieda (Tennis)
Japan is known for its tennis players (Naomi OsakaKei Nishikori), but Kunieda is by far the most accomplished. He owns a wheelchair record 23 Grand Slam singles titles, 21 Grand Slam doubles titles and three Paralympic gold medals. Japan earned 24 medals at the Rio Paralympics, but they were all silver or bronze.

Oksana Masters (Cycling)
Already a Paralympic rowing and Nordic skiing medalist, Masters bids for a second Games to add a road cycling medal to her haul. In Rio, she placed fourth in the road race and fifth in the time trial. At her last Paralympics in PyeongChang, Masters came back from a fractured right elbow to earn five medals, including two golds.

Evan Medell (Taekwondo)
The U.S. has a medal contender in taekwondo, which debuted as an Olympic medal sport in 2000 and is on the Paralympic program for the first time in Tokyo. Medell, a 22-year-old licensed diesel mechanic, is ranked No. 1 in the world in the K44 +75kg division after 2019 titles at the European and Parapan American Championships.

Morteza Mehrzad (Volleyball)
Iran dominates men’s sitting volleyball. None of its players were more noticeable in Rio than the 8-foot, 1-inch Mehrzad, who led the team in scoring in the gold-medal match. Mehrzad was also part of Iran’s 2018 World title team, a signal that he could return for another Paralympics in Tokyo.

Becca Meyers (Swimming)
Earned three golds and one silver in individual events at the Rio Games, plus broke three world records. Meyers followed that with medals across three different strokes (plus the individual medley) between the 2017 and 2019 World Championships. She has trained at both the North Baltimore Aquatic Club and the Nation’s Capital Swim Club, which produced Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, respectively.

Becca Murray (Basketball)
The leading scorer on the U.S.’ Rio Paralympic champion team returned to the program in 2019 after two years away. Murray, who debuted at the Paralympics in 2008 at age 18 (and earned gold), looks to help the U.S. women bounce back from a 2018 World Championship sixth-place finish without her.

Daniel Romanchuk (Track and Field)
Eliminated in the heats of all his Rio Paralympic events as an 18-year-old. Now Romanchuk is a marathon superstar, winning the wheelchair division in Boston, Chicago, London and New York City in 2019. The University of Illinois product is expected to enter a range of distances in Tokyo, given he lowered 800m and 5000m world records on the track in his classification.

Allysa Seely (Triathlon)
Led a U.S. medals sweep in her classification in triathlon’s Paralympic debut in Rio. Followed with world championships medals in 2017 (silver), 2018 (gold in an undefeated season) and 2019 (silver).

Ben Thompson (Archery)
Upset the world No. 1 compound archer to win the world title in 2019. Ended the season with a No. 1 world ranking and Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year from the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. Thompson competed in recent years with sister-in-law Megan‘s name on his arrow wraps. Megan fought breast cancer for years before her death in November as he was en route to the Team USA Awards.

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2020 World Track Cycling Championships TV, live stream schedule

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The world track cycling championships offer an Olympic preview, live on NBC Sports Gold and also airing on Olympic Channel this week.

All five daily sessions, beginning Wednesday, stream live for NBC Sports Gold “Cycling Pass” subscribers. Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA airs same-day delayed TV broadcasts.

The U.S. contingent is led by Chloé Dygert, a world champion on the track and the road who is trying to make the Olympic team in both disciplines. Dygert already qualified for Tokyo by winning the world title in the road time trial in September.

On the track, Dygert swept individual and team pursuit titles in 2017 and 2018 but missed last year’s worlds after a May 2018 concussion. She was part of the 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medal team pursuit squad in Rio.

The U.S. has yet to win an Olympic women’s track cycling title. The individual pursuit is not on the Olympic program, but Dygert could anchor a potent team pursuit. The U.S. finished seventh without Dygert and the late Kelly Catlin at the 2019 Worlds.

The international field is led by married British couple Jason and Laura Kenny, who own 10 combined Olympic titles.

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MORE: Full list of U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

Day Time (ET) Key Events Network
Wednesday 12:20 p.m. Team sprints NBC Sports Gold | STREAM
8 p.m.* Olympic Channel | STREAM
Thursday 12:20 p.m. Team pursuits NBC Sports Gold | STREAM
8 p.m.* Olympic Channel | STREAM
Friday 12:20 p.m. Women’s sprint, omnium NBC Sports Gold | STREAM
10:30 p.m.* Olympic Channel | STREAM
Saturday 10:20 a.m. Women’s madison NBC Sports Gold | STREAM
5 p.m.* Olympic Channel | STREAM
Sunday 7:50 a.m. Women’s keirin NBC Sports Gold | STREAM
5 p.m.* Olympic Channel | STREAM

*Delayed broadcast