A. Kasabien – South America Correspondent
To celebrate the start of the 2016 Olympic games in Rio, we’re looking back at the top stories surrounding one of the most controversial Olympic games ever.
A perfect storm of poverty, economic recession, and poor planning have led to the press having a field day in the lead up to today’s opening ceremony.
#4) Rio went bankrupt
When the Olympics were announced to be taking place in Brazil, the country was very different to the one hosting the games now. Back in 2009, the Brazilian economy was the darling of South America, with huge economic growth and urbanisation occurring thanks to the commodity boom. Unfortunately the good times didn’t last.
The Brazilian economy has been gutted after the commodities boom ended, and has since been rocked by political scandals and the collapse in value of its biggest company – Petrobras.
As the costs of hosting the games blew out and incomes dwindled, Rio quickly found itself out of money and time. The Brazilian government had to lend Rio more than $895 million, or 2.9 billion reais, in an emergency loan just to cover the costs of the extra security needed as well as finish a subway line for visitors.
#3) The “unfinished” Olympic village
The Australian Olympic delegation made headlines when its head of mission rehoused the entire team due to the accommodation being unacceptable.
The embarrassed hosts were forced to make hasty repairs after it was reported that bare wiring, smells of gas, and water leaks were just the start of their woes. As teams have arrived, flooded floors, broken elevators, mould and holes in the ceilings have shocked visitors.
The situation in the village has been so bad that the USA’s team will be staying on a cruise ship instead of inside Olympic village to avoid any dangers.
#2) New Zealand Athlete kidnapped by police
Police corruption was put in the spotlight after Kiwi Jiu-Jitsu athlete Jason Lee, and his journalist partner Laura McQuillian were kidnapped.
In a Facebook post, Lee said that his captors were in police uniforms – “I was threatened with arrest if I did not get in their private car and accompany them to two ATMs to withdraw a large sum of money for a bribe”. After he reported the crime, he was repeatedly visited by unknown police-men at his house in what he believes was an act of “intimidation”. He eventually withdrew from the games and fled home to New Zealand with his partner.
The story raised concerns for athlete safety and followed after two members of the Australian Paralympic sailing squad were also robbed at gunpoint.
#1) Toxic Water pollution
The Rio Olympics have caused wide-spread outcry over the condition of venues set aside for water-sports.
A 16 month study commissioned by Associated Press found highly toxic quantities of viruses and bacteria. The results of the study found that viral levels were 1.7 million times what would be toxic in the U.S. or Europe. Aside from the health threat, the water is also full of large debris which poses a danger to competitors. Authorities admitted that they could not clean the waters in time for the games due to a lack of funding.
The most contaminated points are the Rodrigo de Feitas Lagoon where rowing is due to take place as well as the Gloria Marina which is the starting point for the sailing races.
That’s our top pics for what’s gone wrong so far. As the games start there are sure to be hiccups though which games aren’t.
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