By Wesley Y.
Every two years, citizens around the world gather around TV’s, live streams, and stadiums to watch one of world’s most anticipated sporting events, the Olympics. From Beijing to Vancouver, it’s a time for the world to show off their skills on slopes, tracks, and pools. Though there have been other Olympic games that have raised concern, it seems that 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro (Rio) seems to have been the most troubled. The Olympic games in Rio have even been labeled as “the worst ever” by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) vice-president, John Coates.
Six years ago, Rio de Janeiro was rewarded to hold the honour of being the first South American city to the host the Olympic games, beating out cities Tokyo, Madrid, and Chicago. Immediately after, a helicopter was shot down near the future site of the Olympic opening and closing ceremony, leaving twelve dead. This lead to people questioning the safety of holding the Olympics in Rio as well as Rio’s mayor agreeing that Rio’s safety is not up to par. The announcement of Rio hosting the Olympics may have had people excited, but it might not seem that way to many others in the Brazil. There have been multiple protests over the Brazilian government spending money on the Olympics and other events, rather than putting that money towards public healthcare and education. There has also been a workers’ strike for better pay and working conditions, it has set back the construction by at least two weeks. The people of Brazil have been speaking out against hosting the World Cup and Olympics, two large-scale sporting events back-to-back, are not what they wanted.
Rio de Janeiro also has had issues of gangs that have been causing issues during the construction process time. Just two weeks after the announcement of Rio being picked to host the Olympics, gang violence led to a downed police helicopter, killing twelve. This was due to a gang war between multiple drug gangs fighting over territory. Earlier this year, a wave of gang violence washed over Rio, leaving five dead and 30 injured. It has been speculated by other news sources that it was a result of the increased police activity in the area, leading to gangs angrily lashing out for territory. The mayor of Rio has stated that there was a long way to go before there was optimal safety for the Olympics. Though according to a study by OSAC, Brazil has a major problem with crime, especially with larger cities like Rio. This is made all the more prominent, with the study noting the police force “frequently [had a] lack of resources, staffing shortages, basic equipment, and [low] morale” leading to a varying response time and unsolved crimes.
There are also many concerning factors that could lead to serious health problems at the Olympics. In Guanabara Bay, where it is planned for athletes to hold the sailing and windsurfing events, thousands of dead fish washed up not once but twice, once in May of 2012 and another time in February 2015. A month after the dead fish washed up in the bay, a study by Brazilian scientists found a “super bacteria” capable of surviving some antibiotics. This issue may be less of a surprise after knowing that Rio de Janeiro has had issues with large amounts of sewage being dumped into their lakes and bays in the past. It isn’t just the Guanabara Bay that has had issues, the Lagao Rodrigo de Freitas, future sight of rowing and canoe slalom, has been noted to have a high amount of pollution, killing off the fish in the water. These occurrences are raising some serious concerns about the safety of water and whether or not it will be safe enough to host the events. Rio officials have assured the IOC that the venue will be clean and ready by the time the Olympics arrive.
Between the multitude of strikes, protests, crimes, and health issues, it seems there are problems that need to be solved before the Olympics can be in Rio. Though they are making progress in completing builds for the future sights, it seems there is some serious doubt placed on the Rio Olympics. IOC Vice President John Coates has stated some serious concerns, however, “There is no Plan B. We are going to Rio.” As stated by IOC Coordination Commission Chairperson, Nawal El Moutawakel, “Rio is entering the most intense periods of preparations. A period where Rio must reach a new level of detail.” With the official openings looming, Rio and the IOC are feeling the pressure and are beginning to test events. While the crime and water pollution may place doubt for many, the IOC and Rio officials are remaining optimistic. Only one question remains, will Rio be ready?
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