2016 Olympic Games: Is it safe?
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Two years ago in the sweltering summer heat, Brazil hosted one of the world’s most meaningful sporting competitions: the World Cup. What seemed like an exciting decision to the rest of the world was actually one with many repercussions and problems. A huge uproar resounded in Brazil― and eventually around the globe― with people criticizing and denouncing the choice to hold the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The main concern for many was the fact that the Brazilian government was spending buckets of money on construction and preparation for the tournament instead of using the money to take care of more pressing issues, like poverty.
Two years later, in the summer of 2016, Brazil (specifically Rio) is once again hosting another of the world’s most meaningful sporting competitions: the Olympic Games. This time, the negative reactions to this decision have increased tenfold with a higher range of complications to address before the Games begin. Pollution seems to be one of the main concerns, as it has the most direct effect on the athletes; but along with this are poverty, transportation, political chaos, and the Zika Virus.
Right now, the Organizing Committees of the Olympic Games (OCOG) are facing many difficulties relating to pollution. For example, the locations in which water events will occur have been deemed unsafe and risky for both athletes and people traveling to the Games. While native Brazilians are accustomed to the water and are less likely to pick up any diseases, anyone traveling into the country is in danger of getting severely sick. To be more specific, the waterways chosen for water events in Rio are heavily contaminated with garbage, waste, pathogens, dead fish, and other harmful substances and diseases. What’s even more worrisome than the pollution is getting rid of the refuse and catastrophe. With insufficient funds and time, it seems that cleaning the rubbish waters before the start of the games is not an achievable feat.
Besides heavy pollution, Brazil is also suffering politically and economically, more now than ever before. Riots and demonstrations have swept the nation, and at this current time, people have even organized protests calling for the impeachment of their current president, Dilma Rousseff. Not to mention, the country has huge poverty rates and the government hasn’t done anything to help those in need; and instead throws all its money into big events (i.e. the World Cup and the Games) for its own benefit. It is also important to note that around the time the Games start, two of Brazil’s former presidents could potentially be investigated and/or arrested.
With high poverty rates comes a high crime rate, usually. This is the case in Brazil. Hefty crime can pose dangerous to not just the locals who live in the country, but also the athletes and anyone traveling into Brazil to watch the Games.
Additionally, transportation in Rio has also been deemed inefficient with high bus fares, constant delays, and poor infrastructure. The implication of unsatisfactory transport lies in the fact that people who come to the Games need a way to go about to each event or location around Rio. If buses and trains are not fairing well right now, imagine how problematic and out-of-hand the situation will get when the system needs to take care of transporting a greater number of people.
With bodies of water in critical and threatening condition; high poverty and crime rates; a disorganized government body; and shoddy transportation, it seems as though Brazil is not in a state to host another global sporting event. The risks are too great and safety is certainly not guaranteed. Of course, it is too late to change the decision to host the Games in Rio, but this case is just another example of how much consideration and thought is put into these choices: almost none. It’s likely that the biggest driving factors are money and resources (that is, resources for the events like stadiums and such)– so this mentality ensues: how much money are we (Brazil and other large parties involved) going to get out of this? While the system may be cultivating corruption, are there really many other options? Looking at the state of the world as it is now, there aren’t many places that would be fittingly perfect and ideal; however, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t better choices than Rio, Brazil. Maybe a more seemingly location would be one with less pollution, safe transportation and accommodation, and just safety overall. Assuring a good experience for everyone involved should be prioritized more than the money that will be gained from the event.