Olympic Games Set to Begin 5 August amid Concerns

Posted on June 17, 2016 by


The 2016 Summer Olympics are set to be held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, in just three months. Once the games begin on 5 August, the state of the Olympics will be held under a microscope and will have to stand up to scrutiny.

Much like the 2014 Winter Olympics that took place in Sochi, Russia, these upcoming Olympic Games are surrounded by fear and concern, both in terms of security and health.

Those 2014 Sochi Games received negative press due to the controversial anti-gay legislation passed by Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as the unsanitary conditions that both the athletes and media were forced to endure. Horror stories about the hotels and the squalid streets of Russia quickly spread throughout social media. All in all, those Olympics were able to survive the cynical attention and went on to be relatively successful.

In order for Rio to have similar success, it will have to contend with the safety hazards relating to the Zika virus. The disease has raised concerns around the world, but Brazil has the most diagnosed cases of the virus.

Zika is often hard to detect, as it does not cause many noticeable symptoms, but it threatens the health and development of newborn babies.

As a safety precaution, pregnant women have been urged not to travel to Brazil. However, recent study conducted by Amir Attaran of Harvard University suggests that this isn’t enough. Describing the situation as a “bitter truth,” Attaran argues that the state of the Zika virus in Brazil necessitates the Olympics’ postponement. “…the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games must be postponed, moved, or both, as a precautionary concession,” the report said.

In a similar situation, a recent Major League Baseball series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Miami Marlins scheduled to be played in Puerto Rico was relocated after players expressed concerns about Zika’s presence on the island.

The 2016 Olympics’ problems are broader than just the Zika virus. The extreme poverty in Rio make it a heavily-scrutinized choice of location for the multi-billion dollar event.

The average Brazilian worker only makes the equivalent of about eleven thousand U.S. dollars, and that number is in steady decline, according to Worldbank.org. By comparison, the average U.S. worker makes around fifty-four thousand dollars, per the same report. Additionally, most Brazilians pay relatively high tax rates yet don’t receive healthcare or a high-quality education, according to CNBC.

Economic conditions are not likely to improve anytime soon, as the Olympics have strained local economies and raised taxes.

Although proponents of the Olympics taking place in Rio argue that this will provide an opportunity for tourism to generate revenue for the city, a recent Vice News report indicates otherwise. Hundreds of people, including children, have been evicted and displaced by construction for hotels and stadiums for the forthcoming Olympics. The article went on to say that more Rio citizens, including those with established residencies, could face similar problems before construction concludes.

The drinking water in Rio is unsanitary and puts the people at risk of disease. Dirt, trash,  and even sewage is found in the water supply. Locals complain that the water they drink gives off an unbearable smell.

This has the potential to impact the games, too. As of now, the only thing separating the sewage from rivers the sailors will compete in are recently-installed barriers. The Brazilian Government assured the Olympic Committee that at least 80% of the sewage in the water supply would be cleaned, but that hasn’t been met yet. With fewer than ninety days until the opening ceremonies, it’s beginning to look like Olympians will be paddling through raw sewage.

The stadiums themselves have even presented their set of concerns. The roofs on some of the arenas were a problem, electrical issues occurred in others, and workers have been put in unsafe circumstances. Deaths and injuries to workers who are building stadiums led to a strike by over two thousand workers.

Assuming the stadiums are ready by the fifth of August, the Olympics will go, regardless of the uncertainty surrounding it.

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