FRANKFURT, Germany – A German sailor has fallen ill and is getting daily hospital treatment for several skin infections after competing in polluted water at a test event for next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
A post on the German sailing team’s Olympic blog said Erik Heil was told by the Berlin hospital treating him that he was the victim of multi-resistant germs. He’s getting daily treatment with antibiotics, which are so far not working.
Heil said an inflamed area on his hip had to be scraped off, without anesthetic.
“You can imagine how painful it is,” Heil said on the blog.
A publicist for Heil, Sophie-Karolin Wehner, said he was too tired from the treatment to be interviewed. But she said he had refused to take the offered morphine during the removal of the inflamed tissue. He also has three inflamed spots on his legs and one on his nail, Wehner said in an email to The Associated Press. She said the problems began when a small cut on the leg got infected.
Heil finished third with partner Thomas Ploessel in the 49er class at the competition in Rio earlier this month.
“I have never in my life had a leg infection,” Heil said in the blog. “I assume that I got it from the test regatta.”
Rio’s polluted waterways have been in the spotlight since the AP released an independent study on July 30 showing high levels of viruses from human sewage at all Rio Olympic water venues.
The International Olympic Committee and local organizers have declined to test for viruses, arguing the World Health Organization requires only bacterial testing and lacks a standard for viruses.
Heil said in the blog post he and Ploessel are considering whether to use plastic overalls to sail out of the marina at the Olympics before putting on their normal neoprene shoes in the open water.
Heil also called for a doctor to be with the team at all future sailing events in Rio.
He said four or five other athletes developed stomach problems but were not seriously ill.