New high-tech wetsuits to save US rowers from Rio's contaminated water

The suits will protect athletes from flesh-eating viruses

New high-tech wetsuits to save US rowers from Rio's contaminated water

Photo: Philadelphia University

It's been a bad few weeks for the Rio Olympics, with the world's top golfers pulling out over Zika virus fears, and now the water quality is bringing up more problems.

Water in Guanabara Bay and the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon has 1.7 million times the level of viruses considered to be dangerous. A recent oil slick at the sailing venue is making matters worse.

Brazilian authorities pledged to clean up Rio's water before the Games but have not been able to clean it to the levels they said.

To combat the dirt of the water, the US rowing team will be kitted out with special antimicrobial wetsuits to protect them from the sewage-filled water.

Engineers at Philadelphia University created the technology behind the textile that is used to make the suits.

The suits have two layers; one that protects from water and another that contains chemicals that defend from microbes and viruses.

They're lightweight and seamless, and provides protection against virus-level bodies, such as a flesh-eating infection suffered by a German sailor at a test event in Rio last year.

The suits still won't provide full protection to the rowers though as they do not cover arms or the head.

Some athletes don't think the suits will be enough though. Full body plastic suits, series of antibiotics, and early arrivals to acclimatise to Rio's waters are also being used.