I feel sorry for true Olympic athletes. Years of dedication to be the world’s absolute, unquestioned best in the fields of so many sports now leave questions hanging.
A pall of suspicion now surrounds many of the athletes as to whether they have taken performance-enhancing drugs. Nearly a quarter of the contestants from Russia have been banned. Unfortunately assumptions are made that this corruption has spread far and wide. As usual, no doubt that it’s money that has spurred this much rule bending and breaking.
Mind you, you couldn’t pay me to go to Rio. As host for this year’s Olympic games, the country is fraught with problems from the state of its economy to the state of its environment. When it was awarded the games in 2009, Brazil was the world’s sixth largest economy but downturns in the demand and prices for sugar and gas have sent the country into a whirlpool of fiscal and political unrest including a vote to impeach the president for orchestrating the largest corruption scheme in the country’s history.
Promises made to create and build all the necessary facilities to host the games have been broken left and right and the quality of construction has been called into question. A scenic coastline bicycle path recently collapsed, killing two people. A light rail system to serve the complex won’t be finished and people will have to use buses instead. The company who had the contract to build the velodrome where the cycling events will take place, has declared bankruptcy. Many early visitors report a ‘mańana mentality’ in the hope that it’ll be all right by the start.
Perhaps the most disturbing things are those that affect the health, safety and well being of competitors and visitors alike. The Zika virus, whether or not it grows to a pandemic, is still a major concern despite the Brazilian authorities’ protestations that “only 2 percent of visitors will contract the virus”. Would you want to be one of those 2 percent?
Violent crime is raging all around with shootings and kidnappings keeping the underfunded police departments so busy that they held a protest at the airport displaying signs that read “Welcome to hell!” Rio de Janeiro’s acting governor declared a state of financial emergency facing a ‘collapse in public security, health, education, transport and environmental management’.
Meanwhile the bodies of water around Rio are nothing more than fecal soup. Scientists have discovered a drug-resistant super virus in Guanabara Bay where the maritime events are scheduled to take place. Corpses of cats, dogs and even human remains have washed up on shore where the volleyball arena is (still) being built.
Then there are the security concerns regarding international terrorism.
This litany is merely the tip of a disastrous iceberg. So many badly needed funds for Brazil’s people are being squandered in billions on
facilities destined to become white elephants and a testimony to greed, corruption and hubris. Just like the Sochi games in Russia.
To me it begs a question as to why the Olympics should be hosted by different counties every four years, especially those without the necessary infrastructure. Why not have permanent buildings in an attractive venue, purely for the purpose of serving the contestants, the public, observers and all the supporting necessities including state-of-the-art communications for worldwide distribution.
As the games originated in Greece, it strikes me that it would be an ideal country to permanently host the games.
The people are wonderful, the food is even better, their economy could use the on-going boost and access is easy to a beautiful setting in the Mediterranean Sea.
But then the Olympic selection committee wouldn’t get to go on boondoggles or be subject to other temptations like the folks at FIFA.