The 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro are so close we can taste it, which is fine as long as we don't taste any of Rio's polluted water! It often seems like every four years we hear horror stories regarding Olympic host nations struggling to get prepared for the games, but this particular Olympiad, being hosted by Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, seems extra terrible! Lack of funding to complete stadium construction, protesting police, high crime rates, rampant poverty, sewage-filled waterways, and birth defect-causing mosquito-borne illnesses are just SOME of the issues that athletes and tourists alike are going to experience in order to participate in the festivities!
The first and most pervasive issue facing the 2016 Olympics is the Zika virus, which is suspected of causing birth defects and has been declared a global public health emergency by the World Health Organization. Multiple athletes (including Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson) have withdrawn from the Olympics due to Zika concern, despite the CEO of the Olympics committee stating that the virus is not among his top concerns for the games. His foremost priority is keeping the athletes and spectators safe from criminals.
Police in Rio de Janeiro, many of whom have not received their salary in months, staged multiple protests throughout the city, demanding the government pay them and warning off tourists with signs reading, “Welcome to Hell.” The government of Rio de Janeiro has run out of money for a variety of items needed to serve the public good, among them being gasoline for police patrol cars and other basic items.
Favelas are slums in Brazil, located within urban areas. Individuals and families living in these areas are often living well below the poverty line, and their homes are worn down and crumbling. In order to keep wealthy tourists in town for the Olympics from having to view these horrid conditions, walls have been built (dubbed “walls of shame”), so that tourists won’t have to view or enter the favelas. It would appear that the government of Brazil would rather just hide their problems of poverty behind a giant wall than fix them.
With only two months before the start of the Olympic Games, the governor of Rio de Janeiro declared a state of financial emergency and requested federal funds to help fulfill obligations for public services during the Olympics. Emergency measures are apparently needed to avoid, "a total collapse in public security, health, education, transport and environmental management.” That sounds bad.
Water sports where events like sailing and long distance swimming are taking place are said to be so polluted that it poses a health risk to the athletes, including the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The terrible condition of the water is blamed on the government poor management of its waste. Raw sewage and other unsafe materials have been dumped into their waterways for years.