2016: Last Chance For The Rio Pro!
Surfers will ask for Rio to be dropped if there’s a repeat of last year.
The Rio Pro has one more chance to get it right before the world tour’s surfers ask for it to be dropped, says Surfer’s Representative, Ace Buchan.
“I think everyone knows if we have another year in Rio where the waves are average and everyone gets sick the event probably won’t go ahead there,” Ace told Stab.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out,” he says. “We don’t get great waves there so if we’re competing in average waves and everyone is getting sick, I think we’ll be looking at other venues.”
Around a dozen competitors from last year’s event were left with mysterious stomach illnesses for up to two months afterwards. At least two were hospitalised, says Ace, who along with current world number one, Matt Wilkinson, also fell ill.
“A lot of people were getting pretty sick,” Ace says. “Before my round three heat I was super dizzy and couldn’t really get out of bed. I ended up surfing and I was nowhere near 100 percent. A lot of people had the same experience.”
Stab contacted Ace amid rumours there would be high profile withdrawals from this event in the coming days due to health concerns (we heard Joel Parkinson and Kelly Slater, among others). He said he hadn’t heard of any. The WSL called surfers together at Margaret River to discuss the concerns and the threat of the Zika virus (and yes, despite what you might’ve heard, males do need to worry about it). Surfers were again assured the event would be moved half an hour south to a safe zone outside of Rio if they encountered water problems. Precautions exceeding the IOC’s protocol have been put in place to protect the tour from the Zika virus.
“It’s obviously a lucrative event for the tour with the kind of media we get in Brazil and number of fans we get there,” says Ace. “Obviously a lot of people got sick last year but I think it was a little bit of a perfect storm with the way everything came together to create the dirty water.”
But Ace also points out that many cities around the world suffer this problem: “You could look at any city where you have a big event around the world, you’ll be looking at similar things… That can happen at Bondi, there’s sewage outlets between Avoca and Copacabana (in Australia) – Rio’s not the only place in the world it happens.”
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