Thirteen American rowers fell ill after competing in a test event held in the polluted waters in Rio, Brazil, where the 2016 Summer Olympics will be held.
The waters are the same bodies that will host Olympic events next year, and which were recently found to be 1.7 billion times more polluted than the standard for hazardous water designations in America, according to the Associated Press.
The pollution levels are essentially equivalent with that of raw sewage. Because of the severity and the short timeline, officials now say there is no way to turn the waters safe ahead of the Olympic Games.
Yet water events are still slated to be held amid the pollution, and the World Rowing Junior Championships held in Rio demonstrated the kinds of problems that might be in store. Of the 40 members of Team USA to compete in the rowing competition, 13 suffered from illnesses that included vomiting and diarrhea after the event.
There's no conclusive way to tie the illnesses to the polluted waters, and no team suffered as much illness as the American side, although many other teams did report sicknesses, according to ESPN. But the common opinion is that the waters are the most likely culprit.
"My personal feeling is, I think it's from the lake," said U.S. team physician Kathryn Ackerman, per ESPN.
The U.S. team also said it didn't take certain precautions that it should have -- American rowers used water bottles stored in their rowboats, which could have been exposed to contamination. Competitors from some countries were barred from having water bottles when out on the water.
"As soon as kids started [getting sick], we were bleaching oar handles, we were immediately washing hands after coming off the water," said U.S. coach Susan Francia. "Other countries didn't allow water bottles at all. Other countries had water bottles in zip-locked bags."
With no fix in the works, that will likely be the standard for handling water hazards in Rio. But it won't do any good for triathletes and other competitors facing more exposure to the water. It's inevitable that illnesses will occur.