There were farcical scenes at the Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre in Rio de Janeiro yesterday evening during the women’s synchronised diving final.
Divers were forced to compete in murky green waters you’d more likely expect to see in the River Thames, not in an Olympic pool.
So the question that dominated viewers and on social media: what turned the pristinely transparent azure shade of water from the day before green?
The initial suggestions that it had something to do with the fact the diving pool is outside for the first time since Athens 2004 were quashed when the cameras panned out showing the adjacent water polo pool, which somehow remained immaculate.
Tom Daley who competed in the men’s synchronised diving final (winning Bronze) the day before shared a photo from his view in the stands, highlighting the comparison between the two pools and therefore, prompting speculation as to what could have happened overnight to force this drastic change.
Ermmm…what happened?! pic.twitter.com/pdta7EpP2k
— Tom Daley (@TomDaley1994) August 9, 2016
The Guardian’s chief sports correspondent, Owen Gibson, provided an update to the controversy of the colour of the pool:
Green water latest. I'm at the venue. No one really knows but it might be something to do with a lack of chlorine.
— Owen Gibson (@owen_g) August 9, 2016
Green water update: Rio 2016 say they've tested the water and there's no risk to athlete health. They're investigating further. That is all.
— Owen Gibson (@owen_g) August 9, 2016
Rio 2016 organisers established testing had been completed and confirmed there was no risk for the athletes, but the cause was still being investigated. “It’s very important to the Rio 2016 community to ensure a high quality of play. Tests were conducted and the water was found to be safe. We’re investigating what the cause was,” their statement read.
The water quality at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre was tested and there were no risks for the athletes. We are investigating the cause.
— Rio 2016 (@Rio2016_en) August 9, 2016
Despite the reassurance from the organisers, Ralph Riley, vice chairman of the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group (Pwtag) has warned that the colour of the pool should be a cause for concern. Riley said that although there’s no immediate safety threat to the divers, the algae or whatever the cause of the hue is extremely worrying. He said, “If it has gone green and it’s due to a lack of disinfectant, then that means there is some sort of implied threat or risk…If they’re saying that’s not the case, then it does point towards algae…then that implies there’s been a breakdown in the disinfectant process anyway, meaning that the pool could be unclean and not properly treated.”
Rio spokesman Mario Andrada later said the green was caused ‘by a proliferation of algae’.“This was because of heat and a lack of wind. We did all the chemical tests. The pool will be blue tomorrow (Wednesday).” Andrada joked, “If it were green and yellow, we would know it was a patriotic thing,” referring to the Brazilian national colours.
As the British pair continued in the final, where they ultimately finished 5th, it seemed the water continued to turn even darker shades of green. Britain’s Tonia Couch said, “I’ve never dived in anything like it.” She added, “We noticed it in the warm-up and then by the competition it was even more green.”
It seemed the divers were not affected by the hue of the pool with the British duo Tonia Couch and Lois Toulson putting in a valiant effort, just missing out on matching their male counterparts 3rd place finish the day before.
The BBC commentators seemed to be equally flummoxed by the pool’s colour. One commentator joked, “Do not adjust your sets…What is going on with that pool? It’s getting greener and greener. People who bought televisions today will be taking them back tomorrow thinking there’s something wrong with the screen.”
Users of Twitter of course did what Twitter users do best and went on a tweeting rampage, expressing their shock and disbelief at the farcical scenes at the diving pool.
— Toria Tee (@ToriaTeeUK) August 9, 2016
— Mark Pearson (@MarkPearson28) August 9, 2016
— Dom Bevan (@Domboyo) August 9, 2016
— Michael Hardy (@MichaelHardy21) August 9, 2016
— YourPoolHQ (@YourPoolHQ) August 10, 2016
— Clorox (@Clorox) August 10, 2016
— Grant (@SnowAndBeach) August 9, 2016
— Philip (@PhilipHGCC) August 9, 2016
It’s expected the official organisers will release a statement today with the cause of the colour change and what their plan of action is for the diving pool for the upcoming remaining diving events.