In a few months, the world will be treated to another Olympic Games. The 2016 games are set to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. One of the party capitals of the world, in a country known for vibrant culture and beautiful people, this should be a recipe for a perfect couple of weeks of athletic achievement. It's not though, it's absolutely not. All the metaphorical ingredients are there, but the chef in charge of this recipe is drunk, blindfolded and someone has rearranged his kitchen.
Realistically though, every Olympic games, whether summer or winter, has its own set of problems. The 2014 Sochi games were tainted by concerns over potential Russian treatment of gay athletes. Ultimately, the games went off without any ridiculous hitches (other than the opening ceremony blunder that probably got someone hauled off to a modern day gulag (not really)...(maybe).
This Olympics, however, has a whole list of problems, and many are concerned that it could turn into more of a travesty than a world class athletic tournament. Here are twelve major concerns and controversies facing the organizers of the games.
12 Poor Overall Economic Situation
It doesn't take an economist to see that the global economy isn't doing great right now. It's not 2008 all over again, but people all over the world are feeling a pinch. South America is no exception, and the same can be said of Brazil. Rio may be a great place to visit, but there are plenty of people in poverty, among other economic concerns in the area. This has caused locals to wonder, why, with an already troubling shopping list of problems, the city is choosing to host one of the most expensive events in the world. It is no secret that the Olympics seldom leave a host city better than it was before.
11 Inefficient Spending
This goes hand in hand with our first point. Money is a finite resource, and Brazil's economy is having a rough go of it these days. But in terms of setting up necessary infrastructure for the games, the costs seem to be rising out of control on almost a weekly basis. Money management for a series of projects like those going on in Rio is a difficult and vast task, but it has been undertaken very poorly.
10 Health Concerns - Severe Water Pollution
The sewage situation in Rio is only slightly better than what you'd find in a third world country. One of the requirements included in their bid to host these games was the provision that they would clean up their water and beaches prior to the games. Several athletes became ill last year after entering the water, as there is raw sewage and garbage everywhere. While the process of rectifying this situation is underway, it is far enough behind schedule to be on the verge of becoming an imminent problem.
9 Health Concerns - Zika Virus
Again, much like the sewage and water condition, Brazil has a serious health concern with regard to the Zika virus. There are major concerns about the effects of this pathogen on unborn children and while the pledge has been made to keep large pools of stagnant water from forming (mosquito breeding grounds), in hopes of stopping the spread, it remains a serious threat to the success of the games.
We've already mentioned that the water is of poor quality and may be a health risk, but there is another problem: Brazil has an ongoing drought right now that is in the process of easing, but the city's reservoirs are still severely depleted after almost three years of drought conditions. Things will get better prior to the games, but water supplies will be a significant matter in August. The water situation is also causing a spike in the number of mosquitoes, adding to the aforementioned Zika virus issue.
7 Construction Projects: Some Are Behind Schedule
Remember a few points ago when I indicated that the costs of setting up for the Olympics were basically spiraling out of control? Well, there is an old contractor saying that you can have a job done three ways, cheap, fast, and good. You can have two of the three, but never all three. So if something is fast and cheap, it won't be good, if something is cheap and good, it certainly won't be fast and finally if something is fast and good, it will not be cheap. So far for Rio, the projects are not cheap or fast, so everyone is banking on good... one out of three isn't terrible. For this one, it may be time to turn to Christ the Redeemer and throw a prayer to ol' J.C. to make it happen. Most of the necessary projects will likely be ready in time, but some are still lagging behind.
6 Ticket Sales
This one is plain and simple. The reason cities host the Olympics is money. They hope that the spectators will spend piles of money that will, along with ad revenue, surpass the amount of investment required to create the infrastructure to host the games. The Rio organizers are having trouble selling tickets and this could add to the loss the city will likely already incur from all the squandered funds.
5 Ongoing Social Problems
Poor people in North America have it pretty good compared to other parts of the world. Very few people live in absolute squalor and can't afford food, but the same cannot be said of Rio. In the city there are shantytown type areas that have long been referred to as Favelas. Last year, people in some of these areas were forced out of their homes at gunpoint. They were given some financial compensation, but many would-be fans in the global community did not take the whole "kicking poor people out of their homes" thing very well. This is one reason people are not buying tickets. While government sources were quick to point out how violent and drug riddled these favelas had been, they were home to a lot of people who were not involved with gang activity.
If you're looking to get kidnapped at gunpoint and possibly held hostage, go to Mogadishu or possibly Kabul. If you're looking for a more moderate level of danger, along the lines of a pickpockets and possibly armed robbery, Rio might actually be more your speed. Obviously the place isn't a total death trap, but there is still a gang presence and plenty of crime, despite a heavily militarized police force that has been in place for over a decade (maybe that's a hint). Visitors could become the victims of criminal acts, but the city has promised to try and make the streets a safer place before the start of the games. They have achieved some success, but on top of the local crime, terrorism is being treated as a major threat to the 2016 games.
3 Political Corruption
If you're a mixed martial arts fan, you may remember last month when Mike Bisping beat Anderson Silva in that controversial decision. Bisping landed vastly more strikes and controlled the octagon for at least three of the five rounds, and was awarded the victory in spite of Silva landing some very damaging shots throughout and almost scoring a knockout at the end of the third. That's all I'll say about the fight because Silva fanboys are probably still bitter.
For our purposes however, The Spider's words after the fight tell the tale of that fight (from his perspective) and his homeland. He lost to Bisping in London, on the Count's home turf, and implied the judges were corrupt in broken English: "Sometimes thinks are like in Brazil. Totally corrupted."
While a book could be written on the subject, I'll keep it short, many of Brazil's government run agencies and largest companies are in the middle of a massive corruption investigation right now and it looks like a few entities intimately involved with the planning and construction in preparation for the games may be implicated.
2 Local Public Opinion
Whenever any city bids for the Olympics, a small faction of the local population inevitably protests. The games cost a lot of money and the cities rarely come out of the games on top. Rio is a whole new ball game however. The locals, given the economy and longstanding poverty throughout the city, have not been pleased since day one. Given the impact that the games have had on their city, from the money issues, to the added corruption and environmental impact, on top of, again, kicking people out of their homes, it is somewhat understandable.
1 Worldwide Opinion
Nobody is happy about the eleven previous points, and all are glaringly apparent and have been spewed all over the news for months. While Rio originally looked like a great venue for the event, many would-be fans are appalled by some realities of the city, especially what is seen as across-the-board corruption, along with the health concerns, and so on. On top of the Rio specific problems, there is that ever-growing opinion among many in the global community that the Olympic Games are just another vastly overrated scam, supported by advertising interests in order to sell crap to people who don't need it while ravaging another city at the expense of its people. Not our view by any means, but these people are everywhere.
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