Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Rivaldo Rebukes Rio Olympics Attendance

With less than three months before the XXXI Summer Olympics are set to begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian soccer star Rivaldo warned fans against attending because of unchecked violence on the streets.

This is not the only logistical and public relations challenge Rio has needed to overcome in hosting the Olympics.  Rio was awarded the Summer Olympics in 2009 and had reason to ramp up the infrastructure hosting the Catholic World Youth Day in 2013 and the 2014 World Cup.  Yet in March, only 90-95 percent of the infrastructure was complete.  Rio organizing officials held a press conference to announce that they were ahead of schedule a couple of days after two workers were killed when a coastal bike path associated with green transportation between Olympic venues.

Of course, racing to complete infrastructure is nothing new for Olympic host cities.  What is more rarified is that the state government is broke so it failed to pay public workers like policemen, firefighters, doctors and nurses.  Thus a half million of them went on strike which shut down hospitals across the state.

Pollution still mires the Rio Olympics.  Last year, there was a study which revealed that Guanabara Bay are so polluted with fecal matter and other contaminants that  water Olympic athletes risked becoming ill rowing and sailing around the Copacabana.  It is dubious if the bankrupt state government can achieve what they have promised to fix for years.

Then there is the risk of the Zika virus from mosquito bites, especially to pregnant women and their unborn children. Some public health doctors have advised that the Olympics ought to be moved to protect the 16,000 athletes and expected 600,000 sports fans. Since that is unlikely, people will need to mitigate their feared risks.  The US Olympic committee has advised athletes that if they are concerned for their own health, they ought to skip the Rio games.  US Womens soccer star Hope Solo has publicly proclaimed that she won't go to Rio unless the situation changes. Several prominent pro golfers are also dropping out of competing in the Rio Games, but most cite a hectic summer PGA tour schedule  .

 South Korean athletes will wear tracksuits infused with insect repellent and will wear long pants and blazers for the opening and closing ceremonies to minimize Zika infections.

Ticket sales have been less than robust for the Rio games.  In early April, only 50% of the Olympic tickets have been sold, and just 12% of the Paralympic events.  The government has suggested that it might buy unsold tickets and distribute them to school children to fill the seats. 

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