Back in 2009, people didn’t think twice about the decision to have the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil. Marking the first time a South American country has been chosen to host an Olympic games.
Brazil rejoiced as their city won out against Chicago (despite a presentation to the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) from Obama), Madrid and Tokyo.
However, they have made missteps and had issues since the first year of their preparation.
There have been questions of stability throughout Rio since they were announced as the host city in 2009 because of a decision to re-settle citizens in order to build stadiums for the upcoming World Cup in 2014, and the Summer Olympics in 2016. The Guardian reported in 2015 that there have been a total of 22,059 families re-settled since 2009.
“Wherever there is an Olympics, the level of transparency goes way down,” said Theresa Williamson, executive director of advocacy group Catalytic Communities. “Whether it’s for the new [Bus Rapid Transit system] or the evictions at Vila Autodromo, the Olympics is the context for all these resettlements.”
The forced re-settlements have caused riots and strikes around the city that still occurr, threatening the safety of attendants and competitors. Then in 2013, the Zika virus hit and is now the leading cause of athletes reporters and fans alike being weary of accepting an invitation, assignment or ticket to the games.
“It’s very simple,” an NBC staffer told The Daily News. “I have a family. I have small children and for me, at least, the trip seems too risky. I might want to get pregnant soon.”
While some are braving the trip, players like Rory McIlroy, Mark Leischman, Klay Thompson, Andre Drummond and Kawhi Leonard have already expressed their discontent for participating in the games.
Brazil is not ready to host an event as demanding as the Summer Games
The transportation system is not ready yet leaving some officials skeptical it will be complete and safe before the Opening Ceremony on Aug. 5.
“They are leaving so little time to try this massive system,” Jose Manoel Ferreira Goncalves, president of an organization of railway experts said. “What guarantee do we have that such a sensitive and complicated project is in order?”
Summing up the negative publicity came with two events within the past ten days. Nine days ago the Rio de Janeiro state government declared the city a “public calamity”.
“Total collapse in public safety, health, education, transport and environmental management,” the State government said in a statement on their website last Friday.
And then four days ago in an Olympic Torch Relay event in Manaus, Brazil, a jaguar named Juma (which is registered as an endangered animal) was displayed during the event, but escaped from its’ handlers. The military and veterinarians that were present tried to recapture the jungle cat with a tranquilizer dart, but the cat lunged at a soldier and was shot in the head with a pistol.
After the event the Rio organizing committee expressed their feeling of guilt.
“We made a mistake when we allowed the Olympic torch, a symbol of peace and union of different people, to be exhibited next to a chained wild animal,” the committee said in a statement.
With less than 40 days until the Opening Ceremony, Brazil is coming apart at the seams, and all we can do is hope none of the athletes, reporters, workers or fans are hurt beyond reason during the month long event.