Brazil: An Olympic Update

Gabrielle Klemt - 1B Geological
Posted on: May 19, 2016

Like many other people, I am looking forward to the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with antici—pation. I love the hype, I love the ceremony, I love the athletes becoming superheroes; it’s an awesome time to be alive. Unfortunately, Brazil is not really the same country it was in 2009 when it was awarded this year’s Olympics. With only four months until the games begin, how does Rio look in the face of its worst competition – itself?

To start with, there’s the budget cuts. In 2009, Brazil’s economy was booming, now, facing its worst recession since the 1930’s, the country is pulling major funding from the Olympic budget. Inevitably, athletes coming to the games will be facing extra fees when it comes to comfort – according to officials, all the added “fat” is being taken out of the budget. Thus far, talk is that 30% of the original budget has been cut. While they say it’s all “behind-the-scenes” cuts, which presumably just means the consumer at home won’t be able to notice them, no doubt those actually in Brazil will.

Then, there’s the water situation. Rio’s waterways and shorelines are a mass of trash and dead fish, and the water itself is totally unhygienic. Basically, raw sewage is allowed to flow directly into streams and rivers which feed Olympic water sites. The officials are trying hard to find solutions to their current water issues, even as athletes training in the waters fall ill with fevers, vomiting and diarrhea. Currently, the country’s top experts are working on multiple projects, which in combination may be able to find some short-term and perhaps even long-term solutions.

All of this comes on top of the current political upheavals and concerns surrounding the Zika virus; is it any wonder that people are concerned about the 2016 Games? Every time a country decides to host the Games, the stories come out about corruption, doping, bad infrastructure, schedule delays, you name it. Remember all the stories coming out of Russia ahead of the Sochi Games? Nevertheless, they were a success… if somewhat rushed near the deadline. That said, in spite of all the setbacks, do I think Brazil will get it together in time?

Put it this way: when it’s four days before an exam and you’re having a fight with your housemates and you used your grocery money on something other than groceries last week and you have a final project to hand in tomorrow (s**t happens), what are you going to worry about first? Brazil, like any good engineering student, will pull the rabbit out of the hat at the last minute, give it all it’s got, and probably put on a great show. I know I’ll be watching!

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