Torben Grael
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Brazil Olympic legend sailor says Guanabara Bay ‘looks horrible’

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Rio de Janeiro has missed a once-in-a-lifetime chance to clean polluted Guanabara Bay, the venue for Olympic sailing, Brazil Olympic sailing legend Torben Grael said in a recent interview.

“We always hoped that having a big event like the games would help,” Grael told Canada’s CBC television. “We ourselves put a lot of pressure to make it happen, but unfortunately it didn’t happen when they had money. And now they don’t have money, and so it’s even worse.”

Grael won five Olympic medals in sailing: two gold, a silver and two bronze, matching the record for a Brazilian Olympian. He has sailed for years in Guanabara Bay and hoped the Olympics would prompt a wholesale clean up.

“I don’t think we’re going to see that change now,” Grael said, according to a transcript of the interview given to The Associated Press this week. “It’s part of the way politics administration goes here. Everything grows very quick and very disorganized.”

Brazil is in the middle of its worst recession in decades, and the state of Rio de Janeiro has been described as “broke” by acting governor Francisco Dornelles.

The state is responsible for maintaining the bay, which has been described as an open sewer by many local and foreign sailors.

Rio treats only about half of its sewage, dumping the rest untreated into the water around the city.

A year-long analysis of water quality by the AP has found dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria in Olympic and Paralympic venues for sailing, rowing, canoeing, triathlon and long-distance swimming.

The International Olympic Committee, backed by the World Health Organization, has repeatedly said athletes are not at risk.

“I don’t think you’re going to get sick,” Grael said. “It just looks terrible.”

Many athletes are expected to arrive in Rio in advance to build up immunity. Others will come in just days before, hoping to minimize the impact. Many will take antibiotics, bring bleach to cleanse equipment, and try to minimize contact with the water.

“You know the garbage can slow your boat and that’s not good,” Grael added. “I think they’re going to be careful collecting the garbage in the racing areas, but that’s going to be just for the games and after the games it’s going to be what we know. We thought we could have some change, some legacy there. But it’s not going to happen, unfortunately.”

MORE: Ex-World Sailing CEO says he was fired over Rio’s polluted venue

Lindsey Vonn and her dog to host Amazing Race-like series

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Lindsey Vonn and one of her three dogs, Lucy, will host “The Pack,” an “Amazing Race”-like series where dogs and their humans compete in challenges across continents.

The Amazon Prime show filmed earlier this year and will premiere later in 2020. Production included a team of veterinarians and dog experts to ensure “a positive experience for everyone.”

Twelve teams vie for a prize of $500,000, plus $250,000 for the animal charity of their choice.

Vonn, the 2010 Olympic downhill champion and female record holder with 82 World Cup wins, retired after the February 2019 World Championships, four shy of the overall victories record held by Swede Ingemar Stenmark.

She traveled the last few years of her career with Lucy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that she got in Italy in January 2016. Lucy required German, Italian and American passports to accompany Vonn on the ski circuit.

Vonn previously adopted rescue dogs Leo, a brindle boxer to help her through recovery from knee surgery that kept her out of the 2014 Olympics, and Bear.

Vonn’s previous broadcast credits included a 2010 appearance as a secretary on “Law & Order,” two judge spots on “Project Runway” and an episode of “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” in 2016.

MORE: Lindsey Vonn’s mom is tough as nails

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London Marathon mass event canceled; Kipchoge, Bekele still to race

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The London Marathon will not hold a mass participation race of 40,000-plus runners, but will have an elites-only event featuring the fastest marathoners in history on a different course.

Organizers announced that the World Marathon Major, previously rescheduled for Oct. 4 from April 26, will be restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Elite runners, including world-record holders Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei and Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest man in history, will instead race but not on the usual route around London landmarks.

They will run on an enclosed looped in St. James’s Park in a “secure biosphere” without spectator access. Elite wheelchair racers, including past champions David Weir and Manuela Schar, will also compete.

Before canceling, London Marathon organizers planned to use Bluetooth and wideband ranging to monitor every participant’s distance from each other, though they did not specify if the event would have still included more than 40,000 runners.

If a participant spent more than 15 minutes within a specified distance of anyone else, and if somebody had informed organizers they contracted the virus within two weeks after the race, he or she would have been contacted.

“Despite all our efforts, the fantastic support from all of our partners and the progress that has been made on planning for the return of smaller mass participation events that are not on the roads, it has not been possible to go ahead with a mass socially distanced walk or run,” event director Hugh Brasher said in press release.

Four of the other five annual World Marathon Majors this year were canceled — Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City. The earliest major, Tokyo, was held March 1 with elite runners only.

Kipchoge, the Olympic marathon champion from Kenya, and Bekele, a three-time Olympic track champion from Ethiopia, were previously announced as headliners for London in the winter, before the pandemic.

Kipchoge lowered the world record to 2:01:39 at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. Bekele clocked 2:01:41 in Berlin last September. They are the only men to ever break 2:02 in a marathon. Kipchoge also clocked 1:59:40 at a non-record-eligible event in Vienna on Oct. 12 instead of racing a fall marathon.

Kipchoge has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

Bekele, the more accomplished track athlete with Olympic golds and world records at 5000m and 10,000m, has been a roller-coaster road runner.

Bekele owns two of the seven fastest marathons in history, recorded three years apart in Berlin. In between, he failed to finish two marathons and, in his last London start in 2018, clocked a pedestrian 2:08:53 for sixth place.

That was more than four minutes behind Kipchoge, who is undefeated in four London starts and has beaten by Bekele by at least 100 seconds in all four of their head-to-head marathons.

The Kenyan Kosgei took 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record on Oct. 13, clocking 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon.

The 2021 London Marathon will also be held in October to give a better chance of holding a mass race than in April.

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MORE: U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials results