swimmer rio de janerio
A swimmer waits to take part in a swimming event in Rio de Janeiro Reuters

New tests carried out by the Associated Press have found that the waters around Rio de Janeiro are heavily and dangerously contaminated, even 1Km out to sea. The new tests bring further doubt on Rio's ability to safely hold the Olympics in 2016.

The tests are the second series carried out by AP, who found in July that the waters had disease-causing virus levels 1.7 million times higher than what would cause extreme alarm in the US or Europe.

The high levels are mainly a cause of raw sewage flowing directly into the water without any treatment. Rio originally won the 2016 Olympics in part because of promises to clean up the city's sewage system but officials now say these promises will not be fulfilled.

Olympic sailor Erik Heil, had to be hospitalised to treat the flesh-eating superbug MRSA, after a test event in the Rio waters. Over 6% of rowers competing in a junior championship event in Rio fell ill after being exposed to the waters.

The latest tests showed that the viral levels of waters further out were just as contaminated as ones close to sewage sources. AP said that a viral count of 1,000 per litre would cause beach closures in the US or Europe, but at each of their off-shore testing sites the levels were 30,000 times that.

The Olympic organising committee told AP that the Rio waters were given regular microbial tests and fell within safe levels defined by the World Health Organisation, though AP contends that these don't account for viral levels.