RIO DE JANEIRO, May 4 (Xinhua) -- A high-ranking politician in Rio de Janeiro has gone to new lengths to dispel fears about the safety of Guanabara Bay's waters.
Rio state environment secretary Andre Correa jumped into the bay during an interview with the Globo television network in an effort to silence concerns about pollution at the Rio 2016 sailing venue.
"Here it is just like the beach at Ipanema," Correa said after diving into a pre-selected part of the bay from a boat.
"The level of rubbish fluctuates. It's the challenge we are facing because no bay will ever be completely clean."
Alberto Chebabo, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, said Correa had risked falling ill with diarrhea or even hepatitis.
Biologist Mario Moscatelli dismissed Correa's jump as a publicity stunt.
"It's a political move. I personally would not do it," he said, adding that parts of the bay were "like a latrine".
According to Moscatelli, Gloria Marina - the starting point for all Rio 2016 sailing events - is an outlet for stormwater drains that collect trash and waste from Rio's 6.4 million residents.
Rio's state government is facing mounting international pressure to step up clean-up work of the bay.
Officials have vowed that 80% of waste flowing into the waters will be treated ahead of the Games.
But images from a Globo report last week showed the bay remains strewn with waste and trash.
Last month the International Sailing Federation warned that Olympic sailing regattas could be shifted to another location.
The government says the sailing course will avoid the bay's most polluted areas.