Rio, A Tale Of Two Cities

timwilliams By timwilliams, 4th Aug 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>News>World

The host city of Rio for the 2016 summer Olympics is in a state of continued unpreparedness. The opportunity to move the games to another host city will safeguard not only our athletes health and safety but all those who would be attending the games.

Rio, A Tale OF Two Cities

Rio de Janeiro really is a tale of two cities. On the one hand, they have all glitz and glamour designed to impress the world and on the other hand lies the dark side of poverty so acute leaves little doubt that crime accentuated by violence is the main facet of everyday life. This in a city that is supposed to hold the next Summer Olympics. A city so riddled with gross mismanagement, infrastructure, and corruption one has to wonder why then did the Olympic Committee agree to have Rio as the host city for the 2016 Summer games?

When Chicago lost out in the first round to host the summer games even though the President had managed to present a very strong case still many speculate that the majority of IOC committee members felt that the United States had lost much of it's prestige in the eyes of the rest of the world. Another fact to consider is all about money, particularly TV rights for the games themselves. Still some may have felt that image of Chicago is the same city during the Capone years of the 1920's. Reminiscent of the crime and corruption of that period. But, when one really takes a close look under the facade of all the media hype of Rio lies a city worst off than Chicago ever was. Acute poverty, crime, violence, murder, drugs, corruption mixed in with raw sewage makes Rio a very despicable place to actually visit let alone have Olympic athletes compete there.

Rio, a city of two distinct contradictions, the vast expanse of acute poverty and the super rich who continue to display the opulent lifestyle that is all the rave by the media and travel brochures. Meanwhile all the cities sewage and waste continues to infest, pollute and endanger their very own existence. The problems in Rio are simultaneously occurring in many other cities through-out Brazil. When the world cup took place millions protested that thousands were being displaced just to build a soccer stadium. The exorbitant amount of money spent just to host the world cup while the majority of citizens languish in squalor and poverty is part of the human tragedy taking place all around the globe.

Following the footsteps of the United States where money flows to the top wealthiest and in many cases the owners of professional sports teams who continue to build more grandeur expansive stadiums while so many in the US lack adequate food, clothing, shelter and believe it or not proper safe sanitation just adds to the human tragedy of our times. In so many cases the priorities of government are very much influenced by projects that return the most money to the ones that control the purse strings to begin with. Meanwhile, it is always the poor and the destitute who continue their mundane existence in a vicious cycle of poverty.

Today, what is actually happening is the fact that the preparations for the games which is less than one year away are the worst of any host city. Athletes in next year's Summer Olympics will be swimming and boating in waters so contaminated with human feces that they risk becoming violently ill and unable to compete in the games. The analysis of water quality not only where the Olympic venues will be staged but in the waters off their famous beaches continue to be infested with dangerously toxic levels of viruses and bacteria all from human sewage. So toxic are the waters in and around Rio the likelihood of becoming violently ill is like a sure bet.

Rio like other cities in Brazil the infrastructure has yet to be put in place to accomadate the enormity of raw sewage from a growing population. With the city so densely populated and the government's lack of concern of this mounting crisis has put the future of this next summer Olympics in doubt. Brazilian officials have assured that the water will be safe for the Olympic athletes and the medical director of the International Olympic Committee said all was on track for providing safe competing venues. It should be noted that the government only test water quality relying of bacteria testing only and not for viruses. In either case water pollution has been and continues to be a major health risk. Raw sewage runs through open air ditches and flows right into the many streams and rivers that are feeding the Olympic water sites. Not only that when tested by the USOC water quality at those sites are more than 2 million times the level of what would be considered hazardous on a beach in California. This is itself is unconscionable.

Despite decades of official pledges to clean up the mess, the stench of raw sewage still greets travelers touching down at Rio's international airport. Prime beaches are deserted because the surf is thick with putrid sludge, and periodic die-offs leave the Olympic lake, Rodrigo de Freitas, littered with rotting fish. What is exactly just raw sewage continually piling up. This means that if the city officials of Rio got their act together and put the infrastructure in place to eliminate all the sewage the waters will still be so hazardous for anyone to even come close to and would remain that way for years.

We have to remember that when Rio got the nod for the 2016 Olympics they vowed that the games would "regenerate Rio's magnificent waterways" through a $4 billion government expansion of basic sanitation infrastructure. It was the latest in a long line of empty promises that have already cost Brazilian taxpayers more than $1 billion. Questions have to be asked if the infrastructure hasn't been put in place where did those billions of dollars go?

As Rio's historic sewage problem spiraled over the past decades as the population exploded, so did the graft and corruption of city and government officials. The city of Rio is surrounded by shanty homes where there really isn't any proper sanitation so the human waste flows into more than 50 streams that empty into the once-crystalline Guanabara Bay. An eye watering stench emanates from much of the bay and its palm lined beaches, which were popular swimming spots as late as the 1970s but are now perpetually off limits for swimmers. You can see tons of household trash margarine tubes, deflated soccer balls, waterlogged couches and washing machines line the shore and form islands of refuse.

From 1993 more than $500 million in Inter American loans have been pouring into the coffers of Rio's government officials for the specific purpose to update and implement water quality safeguards and sanitation treatment centers. Yet, not much if anything has been done to improve water quality to make the beaches, water ways and lakes where the proposed Olympic venues will be staged safe for all participants. A culture of mismanagement and corruption has been allowed to place the health and safety of everyone in grave jeopardy. When more than 80 of the population of Rio are infected with Hepatitis should be a real wake up call for not only the athletes but for everyone considering to come to Rio in support of the Olympic games.

The reality today is the fact that when Brazil promised to build eight treatment facilities in and around Rio only one is almost finished. The fluorescent green lagoons that hug the Olympic Park and which the government's own data shows are among the most polluted waters in Rio were to be dredged, but the project got hung up in so called bureaucratic red tape and has yet to start. Another sad reality.

If the USOC continues to support our involvement in next years summer games we had better influence the IOC to move the games to another city that has recently hosted the Olympics and postpone Rio's site until the health hazards are eliminated. In this way we are protecting the health and safety of everyone. We have to remember it is not just the health hazards posed by the inadequate sewage and sanitation systems but Rio is also the crime capital of Brazil and has one of the highest murder rates and poverty levels in the world. It should also be noted that Rio has the distinction of being one of the ten most dangerous cities in the world. it is time to consider another site. To think that the officials in Rio will finally get their act together and put in place the infrastructure to make the Olympics safe and healthy, think again.


Brazil, Olympics, Pollution, Rio

Meet the author

author avatar timwilliams
I am a feature writer for The Tampa Bay Examiner and The American chronicle. Earned Ph.D in Economics

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author avatar Retired
5th Aug 2015 (#)

I can see why the IOC wanted Rio to have the Games - in order to take them to South America for the first time (the closest to date was Mexico City in 1968).

However, one wonders whether the Brazilians really knew what they were taking on - the Olympics seems to get bigger every time and it is a mammoth endeavour for any country, however rich it might be.

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