Independent testing is to be done by the ISAF into Guanabara Bay pollution ©Getty Images

Independent testing for viruses in the waters of Guanabara Bay is to be undertaken by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) as part of a pledge to "make sure something actually happens" rather than just empty talk.

It follows claims from Brazilian officials here at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session that the Bay is the "most iconic part of Rio 2016 legacy".

Rio 2016 Coordination Commission chair Nawal El Moutawakel also added that she hopes the Games will help make pollution concerns more of a "focal point for the authorities",

Surprisingly, there were no questions from IOC members, despite Guanabara Bay being widely seen as the biggest remaining challenge for organisers with Wednesday (Augsut 5) marking a year until the start of the Olympics. 

Following an investigation by Associated Press, which allegedly found serious health risks to athletes competing in venues with high levels of raw sewage. the ISAF has vowed to start conducting its own independent testing for viruses.

"We're going to find someone who can do the testing for us that can safely cover what we need to know from a virus perspective as well as the bacteria perspective," said the ISAF's new chief executive Peter Sowrey.

"We want to make sure we keep pressure on the Organising Committee and the Brazilians to make sure they put some energy into cleaning up the bay.

"My job it to make sure something actually happens and it's not just talk, and someone is actually walking the walk."

Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman vowed to open and honest about all of their challenges when presenting at the IOC Session today
Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman vowed to open and honest about all of their challenges ©IOC

As well as concerns over the safety of sailors competing, there have also been criticisms over how officials have not met a bid promise to use the Olympics and Paralympics to reduce levels by 80 per cent, a key legacy commitment.

Even Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduatdo Paes having admitted an opportunity "has been missed".

Speaking during the Pan American Games last month, Marco Antônio Cabral, the Secretary for Sport within the Rio State Government, claimed they had done all they could and that a project to use boats to physically collect rubbish littering the Bay had resumed in June.

insidethegames was subsequently told that this was incorrect and rubbish-collection work had only recommenced on July 1 after having stopped in mid-February.

Rio 2016, however, again claimed today they were doing everything they could to clear up the pollution in time for the Olympics. 

"A lot has been reported on Guanabara Bay," Rio 2016 communications director Mario Andrada told the Session.

"The Bay is the most iconic part of Rio 2016 legacy, it is an opportunity to show how the health of our athletes is our priority.

"We have new aquaboats to clean the Bay, new eco-barriers to prevent garbage reaching the Bay as well as piping to remove sewage.

"Our waters comply with national and international standards."

El Moutawakel added: "As a result of the Games, Guanabara Bay has become more of a focal point for the authorities, leading to important legacy benefits."

As well as Guanabara Bay, concerns also exist over the rowing and canoe sprint venue on the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas lake as well as on the triathlon and open-water swimming venue on Copacabana Bay, 

In a statement, the International Rowing Federation said they have been following the guidance of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in determining the level of risk for rowing in the lagoon. 

"Independently, FISA has also contacted experts for their advice which has also been to follow the coliform and e-coli measurements," it was added.

"Based on the results of the testing, according to the WHO standards, there is no significant additional risk to athlete health."

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