Rio Olympic 2016

Green water in Rio diving pool raises eyebrows

Green, not gold, was the colour of the day at the Olympic diving venue, where the water mysteriously changed colour.

Organizers say no risk to athletes

In this combination of file photos, Rio 2016 Olympic divers are shown competing in diving pools that appeared blue Monday and green Tuesday. (Matt Dunham/Associated Press)

By Beth Harris, The Associated Press

Green, not gold, was the colour of the day at the Olympic diving venue.

Sure, China won its third consecutive gold medal on Tuesday, but the buzz was about the colour of the water in the diving pool — a murky green.

That's in stark contrast to the pool's previous day's colour and also that of the clear blue water in the second pool used for the water polo competition.

British diver Tom Daley, who earned bronze in the men's synchronized 10-metre event on Monday, tweeted a photo of the two pools next to each other and captioned it, "Ermmm...what happened?!"

Water quality has been a major issue surrounding the Rio Olympics, but in the ocean and lagoons, not the venue pools.

A statement from Rio 2016 organizers said water tests were conducted and there is no risk to athletes. Organizers said they're investigating what caused the colour change.

Rio spokesman Mario Andrada said the green was caused "by a proliferation of algae."

"This was because of heat and a lack of wind," he said. "We did all the chemical tests. The pool will be blue tomorrow (Wednesday).

"If it were green and yellow, we would know it was a patriotic thing," Andrada joked, referring to Brazil's national colours. "We did test the water using the same parameters we do every day, and the results were exactly the same as we got when the pool was blue."

'Don't open your mouth in the water, just in case'

Canadian team leader Mitch Geller suspected the cause was algae that multiplied quickly in the day's warm and sunny conditions.

"Everybody was scratching their heads going, `What's going on?"' he said. "I think that the filter is busted, but I'm not sure. It's not really dangerous. It's not like it's toxic or dirty or any of that. It seemed to get worse over the course of the competition."

The kale-coloured water wasn't just a cosmetic nuisance; it was so dark that divers couldn't see the bottom of the pool.

"They're used to seeing the water," Geller said. "The visuals are really, really important in diving."

Chen Ruolin, who teamed to win gold with Liu Huixia, said it didn't affect them.

Paola Espinosa of Mexico, competing in her fourth Olympics, noticed the pool getting increasingly darker throughout the six-round competition. But she said the water didn't smell or affect her skin.

"I haven't seen anything like it before," Espinosa said. "But it's Brazil and everything is green down here, so maybe it was a decoration to make it look pretty."

American Jessica Parratto wears contacts and said the water didn't burn her eyes.

Bronze medalists Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion of Canada tried not to laugh as they gazed at the water from atop the 33-foot tower. They liked that the dark green colour offered a helpful contrast with the blue sky.

"The only thing we said is don't open your mouth in the water, just in case," Benfeito said.

Geller said a Canadian pool expert was coming in Wednesday and he would offer to help Rio organizers chemically treat the water if there's a problem with the filter.

"I don't know what it's going to look like tomorrow," he said. "I hope it's not a swamp."

With files from CBC Sports

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