Arena: Brazil is in Turmoil Leading Up to the Olympics

Moment / Photo by Leonardo Martins

Moment / Photo by Leonardo Martins

While superior athletes and their prideful natives prepare for the biggest stage in the world sports, the problems leading up to the Olympics continue to build behind the scenes. Most of the attention has been focused on the potential of U.S. teams and their competitive mentality heading into the 2016 games in Rio. While many have boasted about the beautiful scenery in Brazil, the country’s lack of stability makes it difficult and potentially harmful for civilians and visitors. It seems that everyday, there is another athlete dropping out of the games due to fear of the Zika virus. Brazil was the center of the Zika virus outbreak that has spread to approximately 60 countries, including the United States. The mosquito-borne virus has been known to harm pregnant women who are infected with the illness, causing birth defects in babies and other serious illness. The Zika concerns have stopped top U.S. athletes from competing in Brazil such as pro golfers Jordan Spieth and Rory Mcllroy. Health concerns continue to plague the struggling country as Gunabara Bay remained heavily polluted. It is still not completely rid of sewage and trash, which causes concern for Olympic sailing and swimming events in Brazil. According to ESPN and other sources, Brazilian officials vowed to get rid of 80 percent of the sewage prior to the games, but the country is still dealing with polluted waters that cause health problems for swimmers and athletes.

The country is also undergoing a tremendous financial crisis, causing the governor to declare a state of emergency that approves additional funding to fulfill obligations for the Olympics. Civilians are calling for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff because they are upset about the financial crisis that caused Brazil’s economy to shrink 3.8% in 2015. Unemployment is rising and citizens are protesting on the streets in rage, which leads to the violence that has caused police brutality in the country. The United States is not the only country in the middle of a crisis with police. Towards the end of last year, the U.N. accused Brazilian police of systemically murdering poor black children to "clean the streets" before the Olympics. According to the Amnesty Report, 8,466 deaths have occurred because of police brutality in Rio de Janeiro in 2004-2015. 79 percent of the victims in 2010-2013 were black, young kids. The people in Rio continue to suffer as new reports show that they are being evicted from their homes because of massive construction and building due to the games. Most people are under the impression that the games are beneficial for small businesses because of the tourism that comes with the Olympics, but it is actually ruining the livelihood of the poor. Families have been living in the same areas for decades and now they are being forced to move with violence. The areas they are selecting to remove and destroy are areas of poverty that threaten the elite. They want to replace them with large businesses, allowing the rich to take over the small areas where the poor do not have a say in the community. 

The chaos may not matter for people watching the games on television, but it is certainly concerning in terms of the future of the Olympics. When there are serious problems with global effects including the corruption with Brazil's oil company and the inhumane treatment of its citizens, then it must be addressed. The news of destruction is being wiped away by a celebratory event that is in fact casting a shadow of gloom and distress over a struggling country. People are becoming more alert about the political turmoil in Brazil and are starting to think of solutions for the future of the Olympics. Some people propose that the games be held in various countries at the same time to alleviate pressure off of one host. Others think that it is best if the games are in the same place every year. But not just any country. What if the games were held in a removed location that was dedicated to the games? There would be few citizens on a far off island and it could become the global hub for major sports events. However, the problem with the idea is that although it takes away possibilities of financial and social stress, it also eliminates a sense of pride for countries. Countries will bid like crazy to host the Olympics, knowing how it will negatively affect their people, but they do it because of that pride. It is the biggest global sporting event that is able to amass a huge amount of supporters because of cross cultural connections that cannot be matched in the world of sports.