When people think of Brazil, the sights and sounds of beaches, soccer, and samba music come to mind. With the 2016 Olympic games about a year away in Rio de Janeiro, some of the world’s best athletes are ready to chase after the elusive gold medal. However, with recent health reports on questionable bacteria found in the Olympic lakes, construction corruption, along with traffic and safety issues rising, many people doubt whether Rio will be ready in time.
In a recent study conducted by the Associated Press, it was discovered that many of the lakes that athletes will be swimming and rowing in are contaminated. Even more disturbing is the fact that they are being contaminated by bacteria and viruses coming from raw human sewage. According to these tests, sites range from 14 million to 1.7 billion detected viruses per liter. To put things in perspective, the United States is required to close a beach if it finds as little as one thousand viruses per liter. Upon receiving these results, Kristina Mena, a United States waterborne virus expert believes that, “international athletes at all water venues would have a 99% chance of infection if they ingested just three teaspoons of water”. Not only does this put the athletes in danger, but it also exposes the fans to the bacteria and viruses, which is far from healthy.
In Brazil, many scandals have been going on involving an oil firm known as Petrobras, including using large amounts of money to bribe politicians. They have implicated five firms that are currently working on construction for the Olympics. With all these firms being unsure of their futures, much of the money used for the incomplete construction projects is beginning to run dry. Historically, Brazil has the reputation of being slow to pay construction companies, especially those that are on a government contract. With the future of many of the construction companies that hold the future of the Olympic construction in their hands in jeopardy, it is unsure when and how these companies will proceed if they are no longer being paid.
Traffic Jams and Crime Rate
The way construction is looking now in Rio de Janeiro, there will be Olympic sized traffic jams a year from now. The first matter of business is the government funded subway being constructed so that fans can travel easily to the different venues hosting the Olympic events. The current timeline shows that it is very likely that the construction of the subway line will not be completed by the time the Olympics start on August 5th, 2016. Another scare that exists in Rio during the Olympics is the steadily rising crime rate. Favelas, or drug runners in the slums of the city, have increasingly been fighting police officers and soldiers that are trying to pacify the area before the Olympics start. Even in the more developed areas north and west of the slums, there has been an increased amount of muggings and shootings.
All of these problems combined together make a seemingly impossible track set forward for Brazil to follow. One encouraging fact that can be optimistic for Rio’s case is that it has been here before during the World Cup. Many skeptics pointed out safety and traffic concerns for the World Cup, but Rio de Janeiro managed to successfully host the soccer tournament without any major complications. This precedent not only gives Rio hope, but also reassured the Olympic Games Executive Director, Christopher Dubi, who recently stated, “The World Cup was organized without any major incidents, and we expect that this will be the same for the games”.
This blog post was written by Samford University student Taylor Borman.