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Rio Olympic water badly polluted, even far offshore

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Sailing boats participate in the International Sailing Regatta in the Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 19, 2015 as in the foreground part of the city's sewage system flows into the waters. The Rio 2016 Olympic Games sailing competitions will take place in the Guanabara Bay. AFP PHOTO/VANDERLEI ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The next Summer Olympic games take place in Rio de Janeiro next August. And a new round of testing by The Associated Press finds the city’s Olympic waterways are as filthy as ever.

In July, the AP reported that its first round of tests showed disease-causing viruses directly linked to human sewage at levels up to 1.7 million times what would be considered highly alarming in the U.S. or Europe.

Now, the AP’s most recent tests since August show not only no improvement in water quality — but that the water is even more widely contaminated than previously known. The number of viruses found over a kilometer from the shore in Guanabara Bay, where sailors compete at high speeds and get utterly drenched, are equal to those found along shorelines closer to sewage sources.

Nevertheless, Olympic and World Health Organization officials have flip-flopped on promises to carry out viral testing in the wake of the AP’s July report.

Brazilian, Olympic and WHO officials now say that Brazil needs only to carry out testing for bacterial “markers” of pollution to determine water quality. That’s the standard used by nations around the globe, mostly because it’s been historically easier and cheaper.