Under both economic and political pressure from onlookers Rio is forced to reexamine a litany of issues and risks, writes Elizabeth Brewer.
As the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics fast approaches, many onlookers watch with great concern. This scandal-clad Olympics has taken up much of America’s media attention. As tensions arise in the Olympic Committee many countries anxiously await the games. While many of us remain in awe of how Brazil is failing to handle this situation; athletes, fans, and tourists alike continue to descend onto Rio in hopes of witnessing a fantastic Olympics.
The Fear of Zika
Many athletes have decided not to compete in the games due to Zika, like world ranked golfer Rory McIlory, who claims that it was not “as difficult a decision” for him. Some athletes, like gymnast Aly Raisman, are competing regardless of health threats.
The US Women’s basketball team is not influenced by LeBron James’s decision to skip Rio. Four-time US Olympian Sue Bird says “There’s always something leading up to the Olympics.”
Bug spray is in high demand due to Zika. Unfortunately, many bug spray companies are taking advantage of the disease by trying to make a profit. By Wall Street investors betting on the health of other humans, it takes away one of the key messages of the Olympics: world unity and empathy.
The point of the Olympics is to bring the world together once every two years in order to facilitate healthy competition between world nations. Sue Bird stated that, “I always say the Olympics are a way to put problems aside for two weeks.”
With Zika currently spreading into other countries, many continue to fall ill, including 33 US servicemen.
Modern Day Doping
The Russian delegation remains furious with the ban on their track athletes for the games. Although it is not yet certain, it appears as though Russia will be banned based on video evidence. Russia’s sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, rebuffed the allegations claiming that, “This decision absolutely violates the rights of clean athletes, honest athletes, and sets a collective responsibility precedent.”
These allegations have opened the floodgate for many critics to blame Russia for bringing back Soviet and East German style doping regimes. World famous swimmer, Michael Phelps, bluntly stated that “[We] don’t know if we’re standing next to someone who is doping or is not doping,” thereby adding to the skepticism. The International Olympic Committee is now reviewing which of the 250 track athletes could potentially compete in the games.
In the wake of the track team’s scandal, Russia’s weight lifting team has also been banned from the games due to what the international federation called “extremely shocking” doping evidence.
As many athletes have begun to acclimate themselves to their arenas in Rio, various sailing teams from all over the world have been told to be very cautious of the water.
The AP recently released that the water in which athletes are competing in holds viral levels that are 1.7m times what would be considered alarming in the US or Europe. If three teaspoons of water are ingested, it is likely to contract a virus. This issue is particularly relevant to the open water swimming races, where swimmers are required to fully submerge in order to compete successfully.
Crew teams are also facing their own set of challenges with sewage and floating debris getting in the way. Many worry that for water sports the results from the games will be inaccurate due to the many challenges that exist.
Facing soaring crime rates and general unrest, Rio officials have been under the scrutiny of the international media for over a year. On the brink of political corruption and economic downturn, there has been some regret with giving Rio the bid for the Olympics.
A New Threat
Many issues have arisen over the past year, which has given the federal government time to react and minimize the problem. Now, with new threats of a terrorist attack, potentially similar to that in 1972 during the Munich games, the world is watching with bated breath. As western media talks about new ISIS propaganda in Portuguese, many fear the worst.
Following attacks in Nice and Orlando, ISIS has been gaining more recruits. With governments like the US bolstering security in Rio, athletes and spectators alike are filled with apprehensive ease. Although, the US should not be infringing on Brazil’s national sovereignty, particularly because Brazil has adamantly expressed its wish to remain neutral in the war on terror.
With preceding and newly found risks in Rio, the games are unlikely to go off without a hitch.
- Copyright: Filipe Frazao