For many reasons, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is a surprising and horrible choice for the 2016 Olympics. The below are only a few of Rio’s many problems.
- Nasty and unsafe – The athletes competing in swimming events will be risking their health. It is well known that the bay where the swimmers will compete is contaminated on a daily basis with raw sewage. The sewage system across the city is a disaster. Many homes, businesses and hotels dump their human wastes into the bay. Big ick factor!
- Environment and unsafe – Building the Olympic Village facilities is an environmental disaster and a safety issue because it is located in the natural habitat for a sensitive species of crocodiles. They hire people to remove the crocs to a less populated area, but the reptiles keep returning. Crocs are fast, so maybe this will be fun for the runners and high jumpers!
- Sad – Because of Rio’s geography, there is not much land to build on so part of the Olympic Village is being constructed where currently poor citizens live. Despite past progressive programs to support the poor, the Olympic committee’s choice caused Rio authorities to decide to forcibly remove these poor people from their homes in favelas. When there is too little land to build on, the poor get removed.
- Dangerous – Most importantly, with its high sexual assault rate, Rio itself is a dangerous destination for women travelers. Despite its Mardi Gras-reputation as a care-free, fun-loving vacation spot, Rio is one of the most dangerous travel destinations for women. If you are interested in reading more about Rio, dive into the fabulous book, Dancing with the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink, by Juliana Barbassa.
- Vika Virus – This virus, along with dengue fever and malaria, is transmitted by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes. According to this Feb. 12, 2016 Reuters piece, Vika seems a likely cause of the rise of infants born in Brazil with microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome. “It seems indeed that the link with Zika (and microcephaly) is becoming more and more probable, so I think that we need a few more weeks and a few more studies to have this straight,” Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO assistant director-general for health systems and innovation, told a news briefing in Geneva.
Setting aside concerns with FIFA and Brazil’s corruption allegations, we sort of understand why the 2014 FIFA World Cup was held in Rio. After all, Brazil is known as a football (soccer) powerhouse. Preparations for the event was a stretch, including public demonstrations and almost-completed facilities, but Brazil pulled it off relatively successfully. Regarding the 2016 Olympic selection, however, we do not understand the underlying reasons that Rio was chosen; and given all the negative aspects listed above, we suspect there must be big money involved in the choice. It seems like a fertile research area for reporters.
If you are tempted at all to attend the 2016 Olympics in Rio, this will be a trip that requires a lot of advance planning and extra safety precautions while you are there. Consider boycotting these Olympics and travel somewhere that is safer and more fun. Here’s hoping the women athletes will have a successful and safe stay in this dangerous city!