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Rio Olympics 2016: Does Brazil Still Lack Money, Safety, and Stability?

Things aren’t looking good for Rio 2016. The Olympics venue construction has experienced massive delays.

Even the police and emergency workers are warning visitors to not stay, holding up banners as soon as they step off the plane. Why is this happening?

How is Rio still unprepared for the 2016 Summer Olympics? If the country is this chaotic, will the top athletes across the nations of the world even be safe?

The governor of Rio himself warned that the Olympics could be a big problem. Eighty-one-year-old Francisco Dornelles took over as governor of Rio when the official governor had to leave the job with a medical condition.

Dornelles is waiting on money so he can pay the police and provide security for tourists and athletes amidst a crime-intense city. Rio, and all of Brazil, is currently dealing with a recession that is affecting city services and unemployment levels.

A train system was supposed to have been completed last year to take people to and from the main Olympic venue. It still sits waiting for funding. Dornelles has been particularly open about the difficulties, even as others in the Brazil government are less so. The New York Post picked up a quote where he summarized the main issues from his perspective. “I’ve said that without security and without the metro, there will be difficulties.”

Besides politics, there is the looming threat of the Zika virus. Six top golfers have pulled out of the Olympics over fears about catching Zika.

They pulled out of the Olympics just as golf becomes a part of the Olympics for the first time in 112 years. Other top athletes that will also not compete in Rio have not overtly stated that the reason is due to Zika, but it is sure to be an issue on many Olympic athletes’ minds.  

A quote from ESPN sums up the thinking surrounding the Zika issue. “Medical experts have insisted that there is minimal risk of contracting the virus in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympic fortnight, but it’s impossible to denounce a player’s decision to skip the tournament over concerns on the long-term welfare of his family.”

One hundred fifty doctors, bioethicists, and scientists from multiple countries wrote a letter to the World Health Organization about postponing the games until Zika was under control. They also thought a change in location could be a solution.

Serena Williams has stated she will still participate in the Rio Olympics, but will use it as a chance to raise awareness about the disease, and will also educate herself on staying protected from it. It will be her fourth Olympics and she is nearing the end of her career, so perhaps skipping an Olympics would be too much of a sacrifice.

The CEO of the Rio Olympics organizing committee, Sidney Levy, said that despite Zika, he has to focus on the security issue. Foreign intelligence officials from 100 countries are in Brazil right now to investigate if there will be any danger during the games.

Levy wants 85,000 security people in Rio to watch over the games, but the continued protests from police with no budget, combined with the very real threat of violence, is keeping the situation in crisis.

Another concern during the games is the extremely high levels of water pollution, carrying various viruses that could endanger event sites. Levy has said he may have to change the location of events if the water pollution situation in the parts of the Guanabara Bay nearest the games doesn’t improve.

As if it couldn’t get any more complicated, Brazil’s president could face impeachment proceedings either during or very close to the time of the Rio Olympics. The government’s instability is a worry of the athletes, and as well a worry of the Brazilian population in general.

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