Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will be hosting the Summer Olympics this year. There are layers of issues that I’ve been reading about.
- Zika virus. The presence of the Zika virus in mosquito bites has been all over the news for a while now, and it’s being replaced by things down the list. Zika virus symptoms include (but you probably won’t experience all of these) fever and rash, muscle and joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes, and itchy red eyes. What’s really troubling is that it can be passed down from a pregnant mother to her fetus, and babies born with the Zika virus are very likely to be born with the birth defect, microcephaly. When comparing two babies of the same age and sex, the infant with microcephaly has a smaller head size is much smaller than an infant without microcephaly. Since the head continues to expand while in the womb, the infant will come to the world with an under-developed brain. Depending on the severity of the birth defect, developmental issues the child will face could be minimal to severe, which includes seizures, developmental delays, intellectual disability, problems with movement and balance, hearing loss, and vision problems (from the CDC). This is concerning for athletes who are of child-bearing age, and why many athletes have already opted out of this year’s Olympic Games.
- Venues. The venues where the Games take place are almost completed.
- Floating body parts. Last week, there were floating body parts found on the beach where beach volleyball players are set to play.
- Robberies. A few athletes from Spain and Australia have been robbed at gunpoint in Rio. Recently, there was a small fire in the Olympic Village in Australia‘s section, with a laptop and long-sleeved team shirts to protect them from mosquito bites.
- Financial crisis. Rio de Janeiro is in one of their worst economic crises largely due to corruption that has the police asking for basics, such as pens and even toilet paper.
- Water pollution. I remember watching a reporter in the city and the camera person filmed the beach where sailing would take place. There was garbage and sewage/waste in the bay and a greasy brown film along the beach, which looked like it stretched for miles. The reporter interviewed an Argentinian athlete set to sail, who expressed her concern that the outcome of the competition will change because the debris could hit the boats and slow the athletes down, in addition to causing damage to the boats.
- Super bacteria. I read about the discovery of a super bacteria, today, on the beach where triathlon swimming will take place – Copacabana. People who get infected with this can experience difficult-to-treat urinary gastrointestinal, and pulmonary infections, and up to half of patients die from this super bacteria.
One has to wonder if this city should really have been chosen in 2009. Here are the criteria for a city to be chosen taken from Scholastic:
- Big. The city prove that it’s big enough to house all the athletes, tourists/spectators, politicians, and journalists. An effective mass transportation systems is also key, in addition to handle the high security associated with the Olympic Games.
- Money. The host city needs to convince residents that the expense of the Olympics is worth it. The city government can pay for the expenses by raising taxes, which contribute to building new stadiums and venues to hold the Games. With the building of these new venues, there will be a high demand for jobs to be filled to meet the deadline for the event.
- High positive media. The city must continue to promote the Olympic Games highly positive manner in the media.
- Application fee. The application fee was a whopping $150,000 for the 2012 Olympics, to target the cities that are committed to completing the project (building new stadiums, arenas, transportation systems, etc.).
In 2009 when Rio de Janeiro won the bid, it was growing economically and the Zika virus had not been named a widespread concern yet (not until 2014). The corruption was probably ignored or went unnoticed for some time.
The favelas (slums) were known; I had a college professor from Argentina show us a video clip from a Rio tween’s perspective for a TV show, who lived in the favela and tries to go around the gangs every day from home to school and back. Then he showed us that the favelas could be seen on Google Earth. Rio’s government showed they lifted 30 million people out of poverty, and mosiac water issues were present since that was one of the most well-known promises the government made to residents – to clean up the water.
What do you think?