As you may or may not be aware currently the Olympic Games are being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. If you are not aware, I kinda have to ask you though: WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN? I mean even if you are not into sports or watching sports there is currently no way around it as it is all over all types of media. And I think it’s great as we should all honour people who do exceptional things and make history like the first ever team of refugees entering as a team as they cannot compete for their country of origin, or the Rugby team of the Fijis winning the first ever gold medal for their country or, probably the biggest event, Simone Manuel winning the individual Gold medal in 100m Freestyle swimming, being the first ever African- American woman to do so.
Aside these historic moments you get to see people who are already living legends like Usain Bold and Michael Phelbs, people where you don’t have to be into sports to know who they are.
And what I love most of all about the Olympics has always been the Olympic thought of people coming together and celebrating sport and those who have exceptional talent, but also those who just work incredibly hard. People putting their differences aside and just enjoying sport whether it may be by doing it or simply by watching it.
But sadly aside from all the good stuff there has been a lot of bad press, starting years ago, about these Olympic Games.
1. Money/ Costs
If you follow this whole procedure of the Olympic Games, or World Cups, etc., it has recently been hard to find the perfect host city for such events. Why? Those who could maybe afford it, think it’s too expensive and too much to do, those who want it for the press often don’t have the money, have political or human rights issues or all of it combined. Brazil is a country where you definitely can talk about a split between the extreme poor and the extreme rich population. You often, especially in big cities, have big gated community houses of the rich and a couple of streets further down you can see the favelas, the Brazilian slums/townships whatever you want to call them, where the poor live with often lacks in infrastructure and sometimes the huts are simply build in an empty field without the permission of the owner.
I met an older Brazilian man, who works as a neurosurgeon for children, in London on the tube. As the tube sometimes does, it didn’t work the way it was supposed to and as he didn’t know London he asked me what was going on and we started talking. I asked him about the Olympics and he was very harsh towards his government and said that he thinks it’s absolutely terrifying that a country that needs all the money it can get to solve the problems within the country, can easily waste so much money and focus on an event such as the Olympics, especially since they had the Football/ Soccer World Cup in Brazil only two years ago where they had already spent a whole lot of money on. Just to give you a figure. Many reports have been issued that the Olympic Games are estimated to cost about 5 billion US Dollars, which is always a lot, but even more so if you’re economy seems to struggle and when you had just spent 11.63 billion dollars on getting ready for the FIFA world cup 2 years ago.
2. Infrastructure/ Security
One of my questions for the Brazilian man was whether it wasn’t better to have the Olympics now than any other time because of all the investments that had been done for the FIFA world cup, I mean there had been works on airports, some arenas had been built others modified and surely the things such as emergency plans and having enough personnel in the public sector should be there. When I said that he basically just laughed at me. Not in a mean way, just you know in a way like ‘I wish that was true’. He told me that the infrastructure that was attempted to be built for the World Cup didn’t always get finished or sometimes still wasn’t up to standards that we would consider to be normal or good.
Kind of along with that goes what could be found in the media: police men threatening to strike because of too low wages, which obviously would create a security concern, Guanbara Bay, where a lot of sailing events are supposed to be held is completely polluted and there is so much more.
Another issue is that is in a way also related to security is the Zika virus, a virus that is transmitted by mosquitos and the outbreak has led to a state of emergency being called out.
Due to this some athletes had already pulled out of the Games because they deemed the risk as too high.
3. Doping scandal
Something that we all heard about before the Games started was as well the talks of systematic doping. Doping is nowadays with all the test, but also with all the possibilities and methods, a highly debated subject and a lot of athletes, coaches and associations think that the IOC has been too hesitant to ban artists that dope.
Why it has come up so majorly again is that the doping scandal among the Russian track and field team has been discovered leading to the questioning of systematic doping among the whole Russian team across many other sports. However, the only part being banned was the track and field team after the IOC ruled against banning all Russian athletes.
It’s a shame that doping is casting shadows over the event because it can destroy sports. Take biking for example, my dad and therefore my brother and me always used to watch the Tour de France when I was younger, but after it came out that basically everyone had been doping we stopped watching it because it had lost its appeal. It would be horrible if this would happen to any other sport/ event.
These are all things that made the Olympics look bad previous to the actual event, but for me there is one thing that stands out now that the sports part has been going on for a week: The incredibly empty stands and arenas. Like yes I get it Rio de Janeiro is harder to access for many people from Europe than for example the London Olympics, and maybe it’s even harder for people from other places, but surely that cannot account for all those empty seats? The official number says that over 80% of tickets for the Olympics have been sold. So how come there are so many empty seats?
In an interview yesterday on German TV there was said that there are so many people who are trying to get tickets yet they cannot get any because they are apparently sold out.
The Brazilian press said that they had given some tickets to people from the favelas and to school children and that that may account for the seats that are missing, but come on. If a stadium is half empty and there are people waiting outside, wanting to watch surely there must be ways to sell more tickets, because to me that is a thing that actually makes the host city not look good.
Anyways this is my rant/ opinion on the controversies surrounding the Olympic Games and these are certainly issues that need to be talked about and addressed for future games, but now I am going to go back to watch whatever Olympic sport will come up now (maybe I’ll soon be an expert in synchronized swimming or shooting, you’ll never know).
Lots of love,