Few features capture the beauty, or the problems, of one of the world’s most dramatic urban landscapes like Guanabara Bay, the finger-like inlet that forms the shoreline and harbor for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The bay, which carves into southeast Brazil from the Atlantic Ocean, literally gave Rio its name when Portuguese mariners mistook it for a "rio," or "river."

Four centuries later, the bay is preparing to welcome another sort of seafarer – Olympic sailors, who will navigate the bay when Rio 2016 kicks off in August.

But for those who call the bay home, the games are already a disappointment.

The bay is so dirty that scientists and physicians warn that contact with the water can lead to viral and bacterial infections.

After decades of slipshod development, raw sewage, industrial waste and litter pour in from a metropolitan area home to more than eleven-million people.

After Rio was awarded the rights to host the Olympics back in 2009, local officials vowed to clean up Guanabara Bay.

But an economic downturn, political instability and a historic corruption scandal have deflated many of the promises made back then, when the country was booming.

As early as 2014, Rio authorities gave up on the goal.

Now, they limit their ambition to keeping the parts of the bay that Olympic sailors will traverse free from debris.

At times the debris is ridiculous, even shocking – floating refrigerators, couches and corpses have all been retrieved in recent months.

Clean up of the Guanabara Bay remains one of the most contentious issues surrounding the games which will open on August 5.

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