By Julian O’Donnell, Print-Online Liason
//The Olympics are one of the few times where the entire world can come together in a peaceful manner and participate in the art of competition. Throughout the games, national pride from countries around the world are on display and make for an entertaining event.
This year’s Olympics are in Rio de Janeiro, a common tourist site and Brazil’s second biggest city behind Sao Paulo. What originally was supposed to be an ideal spot for the Olympics has now turned into a nightmare as internal problems in Brazil have caused an international outlash at the location of the Olympics and has put the games at risk of being postponed.
You could not ask for a worse scenario than what is happening in Brazil right now. President Dilma Rousseff is facing impeachment, a corruption scandal is plaguing the government, and a health crisis is hitting the country hard (possibly impacting the health of the athletes participating in the Olympics).
With the Olympics coming up at the beginning of August, Brazil’s internal problems will be illuminated for the entire world to see. Despite the complications, Brazil can still achieve a functional Olympics that doesn’t cause a risk to the athletes.
Last year, reports surfaced that the water had failed to meet safety standards because it was filled with sewage that would pose harm to athletes competing in water events. The water was even found to be containing human body parts.
After public outcry, the Olympic Committee, headed by former Brazilian volleyball player Carlos Nuzman, announced that a new sewage system would be installed to ensure that the water used would be clean and safe for the athletes. Whether the water will be cleansed by August is still up for debate, but it was a necessary step for the committee to take.
Outside of the water controversy, another fear looms over the Olympics: the deadly Zika virus.
This virus, which affects pregnant women, broke out in Brazil last year and is now an international health crisis. With an additional hundreds of thousands of tourists entering Rio for the games, this virus has the potential to infect spectators who could in turn infect those back in their native lands.
Several athletes, including Australian PGA Tour player Marc Leishman, have decided to skip the games at the risk of their loved ones being infected with this virus. However, some public health experts say that the Olympics can still run smoothly despite the threat of the virus.
Because Brazil is located in the southern hemisphere, the country will be going through their winter during the Olympics. The temperature is expected to hover in the mid 70s during the day and 60s during the night which is a good sign for those attending the Olympics.
The Zika virus, like most infectious viruses, is more lethal when the temperature is hot. As Brazil enters its winter, the threat level will be reduced. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Olympics will be held in one city so that containing any outbreak will be manageable.
In preparation for the Olympics, the city has gone underway fumigating any areas of Rio that could be infected with the virus, which is transmitted by mosquitos. These efforts, along with the seasonal weather pattern, will corral the virus from infecting many tourists.
Finally, a major concern over the Olympics comes from those who fear that the infrastructure will not be able to sustain this big of event. Doubters point to the collapse of a bike path designed for the Olympics that killed two people.
The collapse of the bike path called those in charge to review the structural integrity of other Olympic venues and buildings throughout Rio so that a potential disaster could be avoided. To the dismay of the those who do not want the Olympics in Rio, poor structural integrity will not be found in other venues.
The problem with the collapse of the bike path was where it was located: next to the ocean. Waves that continuously hit the base of the bridge weakened the bridge, and eventually forced its collapse. I’m pretty sure waves won’t be hitting Maracaña Stadium, a stadium located inland.
Despite the world freaking out about the readiness of the games, the city will be ready in time to host an event of this magnitude. Venues are 98 percent complete, solutions are being met with the water, and Zika is being contained quickly.
Hotels in Rio are even reporting 100 percent bookings from tourists despite internal complications. The steady increase of those coming to the Olympics is a sign that people are not fazed by the negative news.
Adapted from Issue 8, Volume 77. Originally printed May 27, 2016.