Everyone sees the commercials, the market, the stories. It is considered a great time of year when the Olympic games are about to begin. Thousands of athletes with different stories and accomplishments gather together to compete against each other for their country. Who wouldn’t think that was great? Who wouldn’t pay to see that? Unfortunately, over time the mentality of the Olympics has changed. The problem isn’t with the athletes, it is with the hosting country and the billions of dollars spent on the “production” of the games.
Hosting is considered an honour, it is the chance to show the world your country and its pride. Countries work tirelessly to get that bid to host, and when granted, it is celebrated throughout. Rio thought that winning the right to host the Summer games would give them the opportunity to catapult themselves into the club of developed nations. Develop infrastructure and remake the city, giving residents a slight dose of confidence.
That confidence started to drift away over the seven years of developing Rio and it going down in history as the most expensive Olympics games. The pile of broken promises grew bigger and bigger. Homicides in Rio were on the rise, sewage lines lacking, rowers and sailors competing in waterways stained by drug-resistant bacteria. Brazil deep in recession with the government overspending on the Olympics and resulting in not be able to pay for public security, and healthcare.
It made me think why was the Olympics more important to spend money on?
Unfortunately, the Olympics were not a loser for everyone. Contracts for everything have found the pockets of some of Rio’s wealthiest. Confirming that old quote of, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Mayor Eduardo Paes has created controversy within by visualizing a modern Rio, promising vital infrastructure, and urbanize the poor area of Rio. Instead the money went to the construction of the athletes’ village and a new golf course. Paes stated that most of the money was put up by private investors but, upon further research it was realized that the state fronted for basically the entire cost of the most expensive project (i.e. Subway extension). The construction of the athletes’ village was built-in mind with the plan to transition them into luxury condos post Olympics. Yet, in 2012 London converted their village into affordable housing. The poor country of Rio was more focused on catching millionaires eyes, than the well-being of their residents. The controversies continue with Carvahlo (Athletes’ village private investor) securing a low-interest government loan, and permission to build several stories above regulation, and hiring the construction firm that was involved in a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal. Government choosing to look away due to the fact that Carvahlo has money and is considered powerful. Paes has evicted more than 20,000 families from their homes. Thankfully due to international press attention most families were transferred to low-income housing or received indemnities. Other families were transferred 25 miles out-of-town, so their house could be demolished to make room for a stadium. Stadiums that in 10 years may be used a maximum of 100 times.
Reading this article opened my eyes to the reckless spending involved within the games. Building a golf course for the games to please the wealthy, when money could have been spent redoing one of the two courses that were deemed appropriate. It is the constant thought of wanting to be bigger and better and zero concern on how it could affect the people of Rio. Government corruption is constant, it is publicized yet people ignore and believe it isn’t actually happening. If it does not directly affect you does it matter? This is the problem throughout the world today. Everyone turns their cheek and pretends it isn’t happening. Graft politics in removing homes because of the Olympics when in fact it is just the government using the “Olympics” as an excuse to pursue unrelated projects. Allowing shady multimillionaires to build infrastructure because of past donations to their campaign, yet, the residents of Rio can do absolutely nothing about it.
Media coverage can help and hinder in many ways. The Olympics are followed consistently in the news world. Brazilians losing their homes and receiving an indemnity for their trouble was because of media attention surrounding the scandal. The government is under fire due to the promises promised at the beginning and what resulted in the end. Media attention is also one of the main problems. The Olympics are supposed to be about the athlete’s and yet if a problem occurs during the opening ceremonies, that is what is broadcasted. If the opening ceremonies are lacking in any way that is the first thing that is discussed the next morning. If the athletes’ village or the stadiums are not up to par, then it is considered a disappointing games and lack of commitment by the host. The expectations are high and can be detrimental to the country economically. Sadly the Rio Olympics will always be viewed as a missed opportunity for the country. Focused on building amazing architectural stadiums rather then cleaning up the the cities and water sewage.
The Olympic Games were not established with this mentality. It was built on the thought of bringing the world together to showcase the top worlds top athletes and for two weeks’ peace between countries. Is the problem with the athletes? Some athletes that travel to the games are millionaires in their own sport. Do the hosts believe they have to meet the athlete’s expectations? Do we blame the sport organizations around the world that have multimillion dollar facilities that create these expectations? There is a competition within hosts, who will have the biggest and most over the top opening ceremonies, and what will be done different in the closing ceremonies. It is the same competition aspects that athletes enter the games with; who will be the best?
The main thought I have surrounding the Olympics is when is it too much? Who is going to stop it; who is going to be a leader and say no we are not spending all this money on infrastructure. Who will be creative enough to use the money in a way that showcases the Olympics and build their economy. What country will make money off being the host again? Will a sigh of relief be heard throughout the world?
All these questions have yet to be answered on why or who? I can only imagine the potentially terrifying spending that will continue to happen if someone does not put a stop to it. I guess it is just who will be willing to risk it.
Cuadros, A. (2016, August 1). The Broken Promise of the Rio Olympics. Retrieved September 27, 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/08/building-barra-rio-olympics-brazil/493697/