Rio 2016 Olympics……..Are They Ready Yet???

By: Gloria Santos July 31, 2016

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On  August 5th,  Rio will welcome 10,500 athletes from 207 countries and territories to 33 venues in Rio and 5 in other cities to compete for 306 sets of medals across 28 sports …all within 16 days of action after this Friday’s opening ceremony .

About 7.5 million  tickets were made available, and about 5million  have been sold, with seats still available for most events, including the usually impossible-to-get opening ceremony.

In the midst of all the anticipation,  there has been many  issues that have dogged the build-up to the Games: the broken promises about the untreated sewage  where the sailing will take place, the Petrobras corruption scandal that has snared most of Brazil’s political elite, and the delayed opening of Linha 4, the metro line extension that will take Games spectators from the tourist hubs of Copacabana and Ipanema out to the Olympic.

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It would fanciful to suggest  that these Olympics will provide a total escape but that  can’t happen when soldiers with guns stand in clusters at various points along Ipanema Beach and when armored cars sit at road junctions in Copacabana. Protests have been frequent, which is one reason but not the only one that 85,000 members of the nation’s security forces will be patrolling the streets during the Games,  double the number of  the 2012 London Olympics. About 77,000 citizens of Rio have been displaced, many against their will, to make way for Games infrastructure and facilities.

The Games aren’t about cowards like IOC president Thomas Bach. They are not about cheats like Gatlin. They are not about cynics like Nike. They are not about the Rio politicians who have catastrophically mismanaged local budgets. They are not about Brazil’s suspended president, Dilma Rousseff, who is facing trial for impeachment. And they are not about Zika. Ricardo Barros, Brazil’s health minister, insisted earlier this month that “there’s almost zero risk” for the expected 350,000-500,000 foreign visitors of the Olympics.

What we fail to realize, is that the Olympics is coming to Rio when Brazil is in a moment of low self-esteem. Regardless,it can still bring us the distraction of beauty. The beauty of this city and the beauty of striving…

I believe It will be one  the most spectacular Olympics there has been because Rio is the most spectacular city on earth. Walk the five miles from  Copacabana beach to Ipanema Beach  and and you will see  a blur of men, women and children running, cycling, playing football, volleyball and beach tennis. Sport beats like Rio’s heart.

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 There is still something intoxicating and inspiring about the Olympic Games. In the end, it has always been  about the sport and  the athletes, the majority of whom are clean, honest men and women who have invested so much in getting here, who have sacrificed family life and normal life to achieve this ambition.

Rio 2016 deserves its moment in the sunlight.
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