July 5, 2016
It’s a bit too late to be asking this question about the 2016 Summer Olympics with the opening ceremonies just one month away. However, almost daily, there is news coming out of Brazil about how unprepared the host country is for the world’s biggest, most important sporting competition. Earlier today CNN reported that ‘Rio police tell tourists they won’t be able to protect them’. On Monday, some 100 officers protested in the arrivals hall of Rio’s main international airport holding banners reading “Welcome to Hell” to demand unpaid salaries and overtime pay. Police have claimed to have not been paid for months and with violence on the rise in the second largest city in the country it’s scary to think what could happen without the protection of the police during the games. Even Brazilian soccer great Rivaldo is telling tourists to stay away from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro because of the danger of endemic violence. “Things are getting uglier here every day,” Rivaldo wrote. “I advise everyone with plans to visit Brazil for the Olympics in Rio — to stay home. You’ll be putting your life at risk here. This is without even speaking about the state of public hospitals and all the Brazilian political mess. Only God can change the situation in our Brazil.”
With hundreds of thousands of fans expected to descend upon Rio next month, it’s very likely that they may not get to see some of their favorite athletes compete. With multiple controversies surrounding the Olympic Games such as the Zika virus (something that can be avoided with a disposable N95 respirator mask), water pollution, and safety issues, several prominent NBA players took their name out of consideration for varying reasons. Notable golfers Jason Day and Rory McIlroy also pulled out of the games with Day citing health concerns as the reason. “A decision to compete in Rio absolutely comes with health risks to me and to my family. My wife Ellie and I have been blessed with two wonderful and healthy children and our plan is to have more,” he said. With the flow of damaging news coming out of Rio lately, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if more athletes pulled out before the start of the games. Athletes are potentially risking not only their health but their lives by participating in these games. It is well beyond too late to change venues but should these circumstances been foreseen when Brazil won their Olympic bid in 2009? Did the selection committee do the world a disservice by granting Brazil the games in the first place with it’s history of drugs, crime, and financial instability? Should more athletes consider not participating in the games?
It’s unfortunate that this is the current situation in Brazil. Many people, including fans, athletes and businesses wait four long years in anticipation of the Olympics and for these games to possibly be overshadowed by things other than the competition is pretty unnerving. Despite the controversy, Brazilian officials are adamant that the country will host a successful competition. Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, spoke out today saying that “We are ready to start the games,” adding that the event “could start today.” Hopefully the Games will go on without incidence and we will be able to celebrate the successes of athletes from across the world but many are skeptical that this will be the outcome. Athletes will compete from August 5-21. Go USA!