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Water and the Olympics


At the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, hundreds of millions of people around the world watched as athletes competed in dozens of sports over two weeks. For some sports, water (usually in the form of snow or ice) is crucial. Where the Summer Olympics need pools and lakes filled with clean water for a myriad of swimming and boating competitions, the Winter Olympics needs to ensure the mountains and trails are covered with snow and the rinks, ovals and race tracks are coated with smooth ice.

With this in mind, here is a collection of stories (from past, present and future games) that demonstrates just how important water is to the Olympics.

  1. Severe water pollution clouds the Olympic Games in Rio. Remember this? Citizens and organizers alike were extremely concerned that poor water quality at numerous venues would make competitors and fans sick, impact the results of races and tarnish Rio’s image.
  2. Later in those same games, there was the green pool. Once again organizers were sent scrambling to figure out why two pools at the Aquatic Centre turned a murky green. This story was everywhere for a day or two then it kind of vanished. Can you remember what the cause ended up being? Gold medal for you if you remembered that 80 litres of hydrogen peroxide were dumped into the water without the organizers’ knowledge. (See also: The Rio Pool – A Cautionary Aquatic Tale about How Fast Things Can Go Wrong and What You Can Do to Stop It from Happening to You)
  3. Artificial snow. Postponing or cancelling ski events at the Olympics is not an option. For that reason, the host venue has to be snow-covered, one way or another. In PyeongChang, 250 snow cannons are on hand to make snow if the supply of real white stuff is insufficient. The use of man-made snow presents some problems though. Huge amounts of water are required to make snow and its chemical makeup is different from natural snow, so there are environmental concerns.
  4. Even though it’s two years away, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics already has its own water headache. Recent tests at the sprint canoe and kayak venue are showing E. coli bacteria levels to be 20 times higher than Olympic guidelines. There’s plenty of time to correct the problem but Japanese organizers aren’t just fighting a tight timeline, they’re also fighting the bottom line. The cost of the Tokyo Games has increased from an initial $9 billion to $16 billion.

At LuminUltra, we understand the importance of ensuring the safety and sustainability of the world’s water resources. For 15 years, the LuminUltra team has been creating user-friendly microbiological control solutions for use across water-related industries. We are a global provider of biotechnology and information technology solutions to a wide range of industries including the municipal, manufacturing and energy sectors.


LuminUltra Team

Founded in 1995, LuminUltra is a molecular biology diagnostic testing company headquartered in Canada with operations in 6 countries. It is widely recognized globally as a leader in developing tests and reagents for environmental, industrial, and diagnostic monitoring applications and was a key supplier of COVID-19 diagnostic testing reagents to the Government of Canada.

Dozens of Fortune 500 customers across more than 80 countries trust LuminUltra’s technology, production reliability and history of customer service excellence to deliver their essential services in a safe state.

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