12 Biggest Issues at the Rio Olympics

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The Rio Olympics opening ceremony was one of a kind and showcased Brazilian culture from samba to bossa nova music. But the big sports event has not been as glamorous as the opening ceremony. The 2016 Olympics has been involved in several disasters, from health issues as the Zika virus and polluted waterways to security concerns and undone Olympic Villages’ apartments.

The Rio Olympics brought positives changes to Rio and its citizens; however, many issues have surrounded this event even before its inauguration. One fact that had significantly affected the event was the deep economic crisis and corruption in the Brazilian capital.

Hosting the 2016 Olympic Games did not make all Brazilians enthusiastic. Many believed that the 2016 Olympic Games brought  more harm than good to Rio and the country. Here are a few big issues about the Rio Olympics:

Frustrated Rio Citizens

downloadImage Source: Mail and Guardian

Many Brazilians were discontent with hosting the Olympics 2016, and the reasons are infinite. Brazil has been facing one of the worst recessions in its history. Brazilians are suffering from economic instability, high taxes, lack of infrastructure and high unemployment rates. The President Dilma Rousseff was impeached in June, and Brazil is now being governed by Rousseff’s vice president, Michel Temer.

Brazilians were unhappy since 2014 when the country hosted the Soccer World Cup. “We don’t need Olympics, we need education and public hospitals,” is heard everywhere in Brazil.

Hosting an Olympics Game is a reason to be honored indeed, but billions of dollars were spent towards it while the country is in need of basic services.

Zika Virus

RECIFE, BRAZIL - JANUARY 28: Health workers fumigate in an attempt to eradicate the mosquito which transmits the Zika virus on January 28, 2016 in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil. Two two-man teams were fumigating in the city today. Health officials believe as many as 100,000 people have been exposed to the Zika virus in Recife, although most never develop symptoms. In the last four months, authorities have recorded around 3,500 cases in Brazil in which the mosquito-borne Zika virus may have led to microcephaly in infants. The ailment results in an abnormally small head in newborns and is associated with various disorders including decreased brain development. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus outbreak is likely to spread throughout nearly all the Americas. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)Image Source: Newsweek

Zika virus, the mosquito-borne disease, had an outbreak in Brazil and in South America in December 2015. The virus was a big issue early this year, and some critics questioned whether the Rio Olympics 2016 should happen in Rio or not. International health analysts believed that the Brazilian government was negligent at first. But with the approaching of the Olympics, they started to take it more seriously.

Polluted Waterways and Super Bacteria

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Rio has an outdated sanitation program and has long been dealing with polluted waterways. Brazilians in the U.S. always get surprised when they learn that tap water is potable in the United States.

Olympics’ organizers promised to clean the city’s waterways in the 2009 Bid, but it didn’t happen.

Rowing and sailing have been happening at Guanabara Bay. The Associated Press performed an independent study that has shown high levels of viruses and bacteria coming from sewage water. The study concluded that the water wasn’t safe for swimming or boating. An antibiotic-resistant bacteria, Super Bacteria, was founded in several Olympic spots.

High Budget and Overspending Amid Economic Turmoil

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According to Rio Olympics 2016, the initial cost was anticipated at $12 billion, but it’s believed that the overall cost will be over $20 billion. Many Brazilians are fed up with the overspent budget, claiming this money could have been used in public health and education. In June, Rio’s governor declared a state of bankruptcy, asking for federal help to keep essential services running.

Overspending did not happen only in Rio; it has happened in every Olympic Game. However, Rio has cut spending on the basic services such as health care and education, delaying payments to public employees such as doctors and the police. And that’s the reason Brazilians are mad: the government has not prioritized the well-being of their population.

The Inadequate Olympic Villages

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Athletes arrived at the Olympic Village last week in an excited mood. Their excitement didn’t last. Many athletes encountered unfinished apartments, blocked toilets and even exposed wires. The Australian committee was one of the first to arrive. Concerned about their apartment’s situation, they complained to the Olympics organization. Rio’s government Eduardo Paes then made an imprudent joke. He said he would send kangaroos to the Olympic Village so that Australians would feel at home.

Jamaican athletes posted a video on their Facebook page showing their awful lodgings  dirty, unfinished rooms — and the video went viral.

But not every athlete encountered problems. Fernando Reis, a Brazilian weightlifter with high chances to win gold, said that the Brazilian quarters in the Olympic Village are great. “The infrastructure is nice, and I really liked the food,” Reis said. He participated in the 2012 Olympic Games in London and made a comparison. Reis said the apartments in Rio are bigger, and that’s the reason they are unfinished.

Russians and its “Medals over Morals” Concept

russia-paralympics.jpg.size.custom.crop.1086x724Image Source: The Star

On Sunday, the International Paralympics Committee announced that all Russian athletes have been banned from competing in the Paralympic Games due to the doping scandal. The Paralympics starts on Sept. 7, but Russia is out of the competition. This was a disciplinary measure after being proved that the state was involved in the doping scandal, exchanging samples in anti-doping laboratories to enable athletes using boost performing drugs.

Security Issues

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Lately, it has been reported that the security has improved in Rio’s streets — there is now a police officer on every corner. However, it was not enough to stop robberies in the city.

Since the beginning of 2016, Rio has had the highest number of street robberies in eleven years, according to ISP, the Brazilian Department of Public Safety. Early in July, two containers with equipment from a Germany television unit were stolen, but the police found it later. A few days ago, two guys robbed the Portuguese Minister of Education with a knife in Ipanema, a luxurious neighborhood in Rio.

Several robbery cases were already registered. But they are not an exceptional issue: every Rio citizen has to face it on a daily basis.

Lagging Ticket sales

5201Image Source: The Guardian

Rio event tickets are a lot cheaper than those of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Tickets for the 2014 Soccer World Cup were extremely expensive, but Olympic tickets are very affordable. However, only 82 percent of the tickets were sold so far.

Bad Organization

Complaints about long lines and lack of organization at the Olympic Park were often heard in the first days of the games.

Protests Inside and Outside the Olympic Parks

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Brazil is undergoing a deep crisis. Brazilians have been divided between those seeking the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff and those who don’t. The latter believe the impeachment is a political coup. Protests have increased now that the world has its eyes in Rio.

During the games’ first week, people were kicked out of the Olympic Park for protesting against interim President Michel Temer. Many Brazilians have used social media to question and debate about their civil rights and freedom of speech. Some say it seems as if they are back in the 1960’s again, when Brazil was ruled by a Military Dictatorship fully backed by the United States.


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Unfortunately, sexism is still going on in 2016, and the Olympics media coverage is there for the world to watch it. Many female athletes have been facing sexism, particularly during interviews and on media headlines and articles. Husbands have been credited for their wive’s success and even record-breaking wins. A Brazilian runner lost her temper when reporters asked her about the male running team instead of asking about her performance.

Rio after the Olympic Games

The biggest issue will definitely appear by the end of the Olympics, once both tourists and athletes are gone. There will be high debt and various Olympic sites the government will not be able to maintain.

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