Hosting the Olympics is a pretty big deal and governments often fight for the coveted status of not only hosting the games but being known as the host of “the best Olympic Games ever”.
As one can imagine, that is a rather tall order that requires a lot of organization and preparation ahead of time. This week, for instance, after over 7 years worth of preparations, Rio will be receiving over 10,000 athletes and half a million visitors for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In that period of preparation a series of controversies have marked the country, inclusive of; corruption and instability of the country’s federal government, prominent health and safety concerns surrounding the Zika virus and significant pollution in the Guanabara Bay.
Beyond even these however are the reports of far-reaching measures undertaken by Brazil’s governments to ensure that the games go ahead with as little hiccups as possible. Some of these measures have been described (by both academic and nongovernmental organizations) in reports released late last year as being an abuse to human rights, especially as concerns Brazil’s poorest.
The coveted label, of having been able to host ‘the best Olympics Games ever’, according to these reports have come at a heavy prize. One report actually labels the 2016 Rio Olympics as the “Exclusion Games”.
That label is at odds with the 2016 Rio Olympics vision given by Thomas Bach (the International Olympics Community President) and Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, who have entitled it the “Games of Inclusion” and promised a legacy of tolerance, peace and social inclusion for the “Cidade Maravilhosa” (‘Wonderful City’).
Their report – Exclusion Games – claims that at least 4,120 families have lost their homes and another 2,486 are threatened with removal as a result of infrastructure projects associated with last year’s World Cup and the upcoming Olympics.
It goes on to show how thousands of children have been displaced and left (temporarily) unable to access education, healthcare and other social services. It also claims that youths have been the victims of an uptick in police and army violence.
Another report by Dundee University and the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro which looked into the impact of the World Cup on local children, states among many concerns, the disappearances of several street children who were removed from the streets in “social cleansing” operations ahead of major events.
On Monday, IOC President, Thomas Bach had said on the opening of his organisation’s session in the city that the Olympics had changed Rio for the better;
“Rio de Janeiro would not be where it is today, without the Olympic Games as a catalyst,” he said. “History will talk about a Rio de Janeiro before the Olympic Games and a much better Rio de Janeiro after the Olympic Games.”
Even with a concession on his part about the challenges the country faced in the period of the preparation for the 2016 Rio Olympics, his views still deviate greatly from 60 percent of Brazilians who believe that the Games will bring more harm than good to Brazil, according to a survey by polling group Ibope.