Brazil's Huge Olympic Issue
The United States’ most influential cultural pattern is capitalism and our approach to consumerism. For almost a century now, our country has been driven by capitalism and steady growth of the economy. We project that same mentality throughout the world which can be a bad thing. With this understanding, the 2016 Olympics hosted by Brazil faces a slew of serious issues with less than 100 days until Opening Ceremony. There are three major concerns the host country faces: poor living and venue conditions, health issues, and political turmoil. These problems have quickly overshadowed the always highly-anticipated games. As countries look to boost their economies and benefit from the influx of tourism, the last few Olympics games has not succeeded in that aspect. Going forward, how do we prevent these scenarios and why do we reward countries that economically are not stable to host?
A country bids to host the world’s significant sporting event, the Olympics Games. Several nations submit an application to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with the intention to host the games. Out of the shortlist of four countries, Brazil beat out Tokyo, Madrid, and Chicago. People question IOC's selection process because the majority of individuals don’t understand the factors that go into the selection or what influences are behind the scenes. Brazil, while considered a hot tourist attraction, is a country under distressed. The economy in Brazil is not that great, and neither is the infrastructure for an event of this magnitude. Rio previous applications were rejected for these reasons, as well as the lack of security and experience. What helped Brazil was the recent FIFA World Cup in 2014, where they held the entire event throughout several cities. It established confidence within the IOC that Brazil can hold the Olympic Games in Rio for 2016. Another aspect is money. Hosting the games can cause a lot of money for a country, and recently it has put a damper on the economy of the last several host countries (Beijing and Sochi). These countries spend as much as $42 billion dollars to host these games. With a lot of time, the end results not producing the economic growth it expected. Most of the stadiums and venues used in Beijing are now abandoned and forgotten with the city in a significant deficit (Adams, “Decrepit: Four Years after Hosting the Beijing Olympics…”). With a country that is already struggling, can they handle that added burden or lasting effect? Some economists are skeptical about the economic impact of hosting the Olympic Games because spending lavishly on short-term events may not yield tangible benefits (Son, 2015). It seems that the model is to follow the United States lead in hopes to create a similar economy when it comes to sports. Unfortunately, that is never the end results. At this point, Rio has already spent over $4 billion USD getting ready to for the games. However, it is believed that it could have some lasting socio- psychological impacts such as creating young sports enthusiasts, community pride, social bonding, etc. Either way, the results may fall, at the end of the day IOC is a business, and the Olympics is its biggest product.
Another major issue is the health conditions particularly the Zika virus. ABC News and Harvard Public Review were quoted saying, “Unless the Olympics are postponed, the games could cause a ‘full-blown public health disaster’ due to the Zika virus.” The conclusion of increased tourism will cause this virus to become an epidemic around the world (Jacobo, 2016). The strain of the Zika virus can be stored in the body for up to eight weeks, and transmitted to others. Both IOC and Brazil government have been called irresponsible for its lack of transparency and concern. It appears that the Olympics as a business have taken precedence over public health and well-being. Several big name athletes around the world have spoken out about the Zika virus and the Olympics and have thus declined the invitation to partake in the games. Other athletes have decline participation in the games without explicitly stating for public health issues, but people have come to their conclusions.
Lastly, the political unstableness and corruption scandal is probably the biggest concern about Brazil at the moment. Earlier this year, the country’s first female president was voted to be impeached (Jacobo, 2016). She is alleged to have manipulated her economic numbers during the country’s 2014 election. The political turmoil should concern people investing into the 2016 Olympics and country. As recent as last month, there have been hundreds of thousands of protesters in the streets of Brazil (Williams, 2016). These types of situations are not a good look for the host country and will scare off tourism and the Olympic athletes themselves.
Jacobo, J. (2016, May 12). Brazil Faces Slew of Problems Ahead of Olympics Opening Ceremony. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/International/brazil-faces-slew-problems-ahead-. Olympics-opening-ceremony/story?id=39072617
Son, J. (2015, October 12). Bidding for the Olympic Games: Is this a good decision or bad decision? #RESM 560V. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@sjmk03/bidding-for-the-olympic-games-is-. this-a-good-decision-or-bad-decision-resm-560v-589997e801e2#.rydykp8do
Williams, O. (2016, May 10). Rio 2016 Olympics: 100 days to go. Retrieved from. http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/27/sport/olympics-rio-2016-countdown-100-days-to-go/