Green waters at the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Matt Dunham/AP

The source of the problem? Brazil was unprepared to host the Olympic Games.

Metaphor alert! Inspectors were dispatched to the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center at the Rio 2016 Olympics on Wednesday to determine why the water in the diving pool, pristine and azure at the start of the week, had turned a murky shade of swamp. Authorities had nevertheless assured athletes competing in the diving pool—as well as in the water-polo pool, which was also turning green—that the water posed no risk.

The source of the problem? Brazil was unprepared to host the Olympic Games.

The Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), the world’s diving and swimming authority, released a statement on Wednesday about the pool conditions. The statement failed to mention algae, the reported cause of the transformation. Instead, the statement focused on the proximate cause: a lack of chemicals needed to treat the pools in order to prevent the algae buildup.

FINA can confirm that the reason for the unusual water colour observed during the Rio 2016 diving competitions is that the water tanks ran out some of the chemicals used in the water treatment process. As a result the pH level of the water was outside the usual range, causing the discolouration. The FINA Sport Medicine Committee conducted tests on the water quality and concluded that there was no risk to the health and safety of the athletes, and no reason for the competition to be affected.

There are hiccups in every Olympics, although they do not usually look so toxic. While FINA says that the murky waters should not affect the competition at all, it’s important to look at the photos. These games asked Olympic divers to plunge into water that makes the Gowanus Canal look like snowmelt off the Sierra Nevadas. That’s not going to throw off a swimmer even a little?

(Matt Dunham/AP)

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