This weekend sees the Olympics return, but it has been a tumultuous preparation on every level for the South American country. It has been a non-stop procession of one problem after another, and it goes from the bottom to the top. The games have so much promise being hosted in one of the world’s most iconic cities, but it is in danger of becoming a farce.
“Rio probably has the biggest array of problems or potential problems of any Olympics venue,”
First of all, for the sporting elements the most basic need to host an Olympics is facilities, and making sure they are ready. Unfortunately for Brazil and more for the Athletes it has not gone swimmingly. There have been extensive problems with accommodation and only this week part of the Sailing construction collapse. There are reportedly manhole covers open and pipes still being installed in the Olympic Village. The most prominent news came from the Australian Team camp who refused to stay in their accommodation until certain aspects were fixed only for a fire to then break out just three days later, causing an evacuation. Seasoned NBC presenter Bob Costas who was reporting from Brazil gave his opinion on the state of the facilities, “Rio probably has the biggest array of problems or potential problems of any Olympics venue,” he said. The USA basketball teams and all their superstars have taken a different route to comfort and have chosen a Luxury Cruise ship off the coast of Rio called the Silver Cloud.
Rio has been unlucky to be caught in the midst of a health crisis in the country too. The Zika virus which has affected the country more than any other and has led to disruption and also apprehension from visitors and athletes alike. IOC and Rio de Janeiro have been quick to negate the dangers and say that possibilities of infection are low, as long as sensible precautions are taken. Zika has already reached USA anyway, with 14 cases in Florida and 25% of Puerto Rico’s population are thought to have the virus. Golf has been hit hardest by the Zika virus though, with up to 19 eligible players not competing citing it specifically as the issue. Rory McIlroy and Jason Day rate among the highest profile of those not going to Rio.
The tensions in Rio will be extremely high this summer and athletes will be worried that some of the issues may affect performances.
Lastly, but possibly most dangerous for the Olympics is the political edge that has come out again, with fresh protests in the week leading up to the opening ceremony. They are calling for former President Dilma Rousseff to be impeached as well as her predecessor. She is embroiled in a corruption scandal involving oil companies and people are angry. Whilst money is being taken by the politicians, and the cost of hosting the Olympics is rising, normal people are struggling. Brazil is facing its worst economic crisis in decades. One of the most striking images was that of the Police holding a sign in an airport welcoming tourists with the phrase, welcome to hell. It is believed police are severely underfunded which does not bode well for safety at the games.
The tensions in Rio will be extremely high this summer and athletes will be worried that some of the issues may affect performances. I hope that is not the case as it has been a place for incredible human achievement, but I think it will be an achievement just for Brazil to get through the summer unscathed. Hopefully it will but focus should remain on Brazil afterwards as it will be over for us in September but it could be the start of a period of pain for Brazil. “We welcome all of you and wish you a nice stay in our country,” politician Case Carvalho spoke into a megaphone to the Rio crowds, among them hundreds of foreign tourists. “Enjoy the Olympic Games, because we are paying a high price for it!”