GSB News and Notes: More Rio 2016 Dirty Water, Ray Allen to Open Green Restaurant


Distressing news about the water quality at the sailing, rowing and distance swimming venues in Rio in advance of the 2016 continues to flood in–this time in the form of a must-read story from ESPN’s Outside the Lines (OTL). Ray Allen, 2-time NBA Champion, first-time Eco-Athlete. Let’s start the week by unpacking a GreenSportsBlog News & Notes column.

The dirty, foul-smelling, and perhaps dangerous condition of the water at the sailing, rowing and triathlon swim venues for the 2016 Rio Olympics has garnered the attention of this blogThe Guardianand a myriad of other media outlets around the world. ESPN has done great work on the Rio story.
Mike “Greeny” Greenberg, co-host of “Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio’s/ESPN2’s popular morning drive time gabfest, became enraged late last month when he found out that the CEO of World Sailing was fired because he suggested moving the Olympic sailing competition from the dangerously polluted Guanabara Bay to a cleaner, if more remote location. So Greeny started the #RioWater hashtag–which became a “thing”–it trended for at least two days–and the profile of the issue grew.
ESPN dug much deeper into the dirty Rio water story with the publication Thursday of “The Promise Rio Couldn’t Keep,” a must-read, insightful and balanced piece by Bonnie D. Ford, through the network’s investigative arm, Outside The Lines (OTL). The gist:

  • The widespread absence of modern sanitation in Brazil’s 2nd largest city was spun into an asset by the leaders of Rio’s pitch to to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to win the Games in 2009.
  • Rio’s bid essentially said “give us the Olympics and we commit to cleaning up the water for sailing, rowing and the triathlon swim.”
  • Rio, while making some improvements, will not come close to meeting those commitments.

Bonnie Ford

Bonnie D. Ford of ESPN’s Outside The Lines and author of  “The Promise Rio Couldn’t Keep.” (Photo credit: ESPN and MIT Sloan Analytics Conference)

Here are some important nuggets from Ford’s story:

  • IOC Executive Director of the Olympic Games Christophe Dubi says that “some progress is better than none,” and that the water will be safe for competition.
  • An Associated Press investigation, based on independent testing, points in the opposite direction. It revealed frightening levels of bacterial and viral contamination [italics are mine] at and around Olympic venues. According to Ford, the test results “prompted public debate about whether Brazilian authorities should test for viruses, but the government and Rio 2016 organizers defended their methods as consistent with World Health Organization standards.”
  • While Dubi says the waters will be safe, OTL obtained a confidential United States Olympic Committee (USOC) memo which said the USOC has “ongoing concerns over possible existing viral and bacterial contaminants in the water. … The USOC remains hopeful, but we do not expect to anticipate major reductions [italics are the USOC’s] in bacterial or viral pathogen levels at the competition venues…There is currently no way to ‘zero out’ the risk of infection or illness when competition occurs in any water, and especially in Rio waters.”
  • Axel Grael, vice mayor of a Rio suburb and member of a legendary family of top Brazilian Olympic sailors, did not pull any punches: “I’m sure Rio de Janeiro is going to be the worst Olympic [sailing] course ever offered. It’s embarrassing that we’re offering such poor conditions. It could have been much better.”

Perhaps the most chilling quote in Ford’s article was from US open water swimmer Chip Peterson, about what will happen to the water and the people who depend on it once the Rio Olympic flame is doused: “We’re putting a lot of emphasis on..an event [open water swimming] that has 50 athletes competing in it, but it’s a city of 6 million people who don’t have the same level of water treatment and all the amenities that we’re so used to back in the U.S…Pumping sewage into our ecosystem is not going to be doing anyone any good, for generations to come.”
Please, read “The Promise Rio Couldn’t Keep.”
A new Eco-Athlete is born.
Ray Allen became a certified legend to South Florida sports fans when he buried a game-tying 3-point shot to cap a furious comeback by the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. Once saved by Allen, the Heat, led by LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, ended up winning the game in overtime, forcing a decisive Game 7. Miami took that contest as well, securing their 2nd straight NBA Championship.
Ray Allen Game 6

Ray Allen elevates for the epic game-tying 3-pointer in the 2013 NBA Finals, Game 6. (Photo credit: Slate.com)

The 2-time NBA champ, the league’s all-time leader in 3-point shots made and likely Hall of Famer will further endear himself to Miamians next month when he and his wife Shannon open up Grown, an organic fast-food restaurant.
As detailed in a story by Chabeli Guerrera in the February 18th edition of the Miami Herald, the Allens’ nine-year-old son Walker’s battle with Type 1 diabetes is the inspiration for Grown. Shannon, creator and executive producer of the cooking show The Pre-Game Meal on Comcast SportsNet, “partnered with a team of nutrition experts to conceptualize the restaurant.” The menu will include locally sourced, organic breakfast, lunch and dinner items between $4 and $18.
Ray Allen Grown

Ray Allen standing outside Grown, the organic, green fast-food restaurant in South Miami he will open in March with his wife, Shannon. (Photo credit: Grown)

Ray & Shannon Allen

Shannon and Ray Allen were inspired to open Grown in response to son Walker’s Type-1 diabetes. (Photo credit: Miami Herald)

Sustainability will be infused throughout Grown.
The 1,900-square-foot space will, per the Guerrera piece, “include a rooftop garden where local farmers will grow vegetables, greens and herbs for use in the restaurant’s kitchen. The building’s facade will be built from 100-year-old reclaimed barn wood and an interactive iPad bar will encourage kids to play nutritional- and fitness-themed games.* Even the menus and kids meal packaging will be plantable.”
Forget South Beach; Grown sounds like the perfect reason to visit Miami!

* GreenSportsBlog believes the Allens should also include games themed to climate change and will reach out to them/Grown management to urge they do this.
Please comment below!
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