In less than two months, the 2016 Summer Olympics will begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And they couldn’t be coming at a worse time.
Anyone who keeps up with the news can tell you that part of the reason is due to the explosion of Zika virus cases in the country. But that’s not the only concern that may be driving some athletes to drop out early. Law enforcement officials are facing of violent crime wave throughout the city. Compared to 2015, the number of murders in the state of Rio through April 2016 are up by 15%, and street robberies are up 24%. The locals attribute the rise in numbers to a recent recession that hit the country – the worst Brazil has faced since the 1930s.
Authorities are saying that they will have 85,000 troops and police on hand to keep the area safe during the course of the games. Normally, that might be enough to convince people that law enforcement can keep the peace despite the craziness of the event. But if we’re being honest, there’s very little faith in the Brazilian government right now. A political upheaval is in progress, with President Dilma Rousseff facing impeachment among accusations of taking money from banks run by the state to hide shortfalls in the country’s budget.
At the same time, numerous other lawmakers are being accused of corruption, and it has led to millions of people partaking in political protests countrywide.
Amidst this political turmoil, of course, is also the concern about the Zika virus. It’s an illness carried by mosquitoes that has been putting local mothers and their children at high risk for microcephaly. As it stands now, the World Health Organization estimates that more than 2,500 babies born in Brazil will become infected because of exposure to the virus. Many athletes, as well as game officials, have publicly voiced concerns over the continuation of the games in the face of this threat alone. Already, 13 athletes have decided not to risk it and dropped out.
Adding to the troubles plaguing the games, the event itself could ultimately become a problem. Athletes have also expressed unease about the condition of the venues set aside for the events. A track set to host a pre-game cycling test in May wasn’t ready in time, which ultimately led to the test being postponed.
And it doesn’t end there. Perhaps the most worrying problem facing the Summer Olympic Games is the condition of the water around the state. Numerous athletes have already complained about finding raw sewage, and the reigning wind surfing champion described the conditions as “disgustingly filthy and dangerous.”
Despite all of this, Brazilian officials are promising that the 17-day event will be safe and secure for both its athletes and the 300,000 spectators expected to attend. The games are set to start in Rio de Janeiro on August 5.