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  • James Howey

Water Quality and International Sporting Events: How to win a gold medal?

With the Commonwealth Games right on our doorstep, and the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics having just finished up, international sporting events have had a big presence so far in 2018.

Being a Brisbane local, I saw exactly how much funding and preparation must go into preparing for events such as these. Though we are all made aware of how much these events cost, seeing the infrastructure put in place, transport networks prepped and experiencing the awareness campaigns have given me a whole new perspective of the immense amount of organisation required.

One detail about these events has always stood out to me above the rest: the water quality issues which are reported during the lead up and during swimming events (likely an occupational hazard). A particularly colourful example was of course the green pool during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, which plagued the organisers during the Woman's diving finals. The organisers reported that the pool was dosed with hydrogen peroxide, resulting in a chemical reaction which caused the "murky" colour, and further caused odour issues. The pool was drained and refilled, with reportedly no harm caused to athletes, however it certainly was not a good look on the international stage.

The upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics have also had reported water quality issues, with the venue for marathon swimming and triathlon (Odaiba Seaside Park) failing microbial safety tests.

According to the World Health Organisation, water must have good transparency, and the bottom of the pool should be clearly visible. pH range should be 7-8 and all toxic substances must be below guideline values for drinking water. Free chlorine residual must be between 0.5 and 3 mg/L. Total bacteria must be below 100cfu/ml, total coliforms should be less than 10cfu/ml and there must be no detections of feacal coliforms or potentialy pathogenic germs.

Further, according to the international Swimming Federation (FINA) pool temperature must be between 25-28 degrees celcius, depending on the event.

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