Friday, April 11, 2014

Guard the Post: There are no warning flags left for Brazil, Rio

Last year, there was a lot of conversation around the Rio 2016 planning committee and how far behind they were on the preparation for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Luckily, the organizer got a bit of a break from the media mercenaries thanks to a man named Putin and some place called Sochi. Now, with Sochi 2014 in the books, all of the international sport focus has shifted to Rio. Guess what? It hasn't gotten better.

You would think after the ill-preparation of Athens in 2004, organizing committees wouldn't let it happen in their countries. London 2012 was such a hit, Beijing 2008 was like something we have never seen before; but we are back to having a host country that has just not quite been up to snuff.
Here is a little background, very brief. When Rio was granted the 2016 Summer Olympic games in 2009, Brazil was the fastest growing economy in the world per capita. With the 2014 World Cup in their sites, the country would be hosting the two largest international sporting events within 2 years. "Wow, great!" said everyone.

Come 2010, the trouble began. Crime-ridden favelas surrounding major tourist areas and future sites for the Olympics and World Cup were hit and hit hard. Ruined homes were demolished (even if people were living in them), skyscrapers were being built, armed guards walked the streets day and night. It was like a scene out of "Call of Duty". (Actually, a lot of Call of Duty maps are based on Favelas in Rio, legitimately). "Not great!" said everyone. The "UPP", a Portuguese acronym for Pacifying Police Unit, were meant to bring peace, but in reality they were disrupting the livelihood of thousands of Rio citizens.

The troubles in the favelas continue today, where fire fights and gangs still have a hold on many communities. Just last month, another 1,400 police and military members took over a 'slum' near the Rio airport that houses 130,000 Brazilians. Trust me, I am all for the safety of the tourists, but when it comes at the expense of the lives, homes, and safety of local citizens, there is an issue.

The Olympic-ism of countries can do amazing things, but it can also damage a country beyond repair. It is time for the IOC to recognize this risk and take all the necessary steps to avoid placing a country, blinded by greed and nationalism, under deep economic turmoil and social unrest.


Kevin Murray is a Pre-Junior Sport Management major at Drexel University, originally from Havertown, PA. In the past, Kevin has worked for Drexel Sport Management doing research on Title IX and collegiate sport, as well as for Drexel Athletics in multiple roles culminating in his first co-op in the External Relations department, where he still works part-time. Along with his duties as a Resident Assistant on campus and as the Vice President of Drexel SMTSU, Kevin is currently on co-op with the Drexel University Office of Institutional Advancement as a Student Liaison for their Alumni Discovery Initiative.  You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kevinj_murray.

Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

No comments:

Post a Comment