12 August 2016

Rio Olympics scarred by issues beyond organisers

Eight days after the opening ceremony, the Rio de Janeiro Olympics have not disappointed.

Unless you are a fan of Novak Djokovic or Serena Williams or both, the Games will have left the local organising committee with a feeling that they are halfway through.

The normal tournament glitches have been here and there but on the whole, it is safe to say Brazil 2016 is on course to write its own chapter of Olympic history.

But the underlying issues that threatened to derail the Games in the first place persist.

And here, we are not talking about venues behind schedule or incomplete sections of the Games Village. That, I’ll leave for the biased sections of western media and their propaganda.
First when Rio de Janeiro won the right to host the Olympics in 2009, everything seemed to be going for Brazil.

The country’s economy was on the up, having etched its way into the top five in the world after dislodging the United Kingdom.
Having earned the right to host the 2014 Fifa World Cup earlier, the sky appeared to be the limit for Brazilian sport.

The World Cup came and passed with hundreds of thousands of people travelling from all corners of the world to attend.

No Brazilian, however, could have predicted the political upheaval in national politics that claimed ex-President Dilmar Rousseff, a polarising figure in South America’s largest nation.
The economy has struggled in the aftermath of the World Cup and the strain of hosting the Olympics is ubiquitous.

From Rua Sa Ferreira in Copacabana to the Gal Osorio train station, the traffic hold-up is six minutes at most today. During the World Cup, it was more than double the time.

On the ride from Rio’s Galilelo Galilei International Aiport, the billboard-size banners and adverts that usually welcome visitors are somewhat lacking in oomph. They are few and scattered.

The mood among the locals is hardly of a global, historic tournament taking place in their midst.

Four years ago in London, tickets were scarce. In Rio, there is hardly anything of the kind. The turn-up has been fair but the demand for the tickets bears no resemblance to London.

Six years ago, South Africa 2010 organisers were emboldened by the trash that was hurled in their direction about the World Cup.

Rio 2016 organisers have done an immense job, and continue to do so, but the shortcomings of the Olympics were factors well out of their country.

Applaud, not laugh, at Lunkuse and Katende


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