Saturday, April 16th, 2016

Political turmoil in Brazil could mar Rio Olympics 2016

Narada Desk | April 16, 2016 3:45 pm Print
Logo of Rio Olympics 2016
Logo of Rio Olympics 2016

Logo of Rio Olympics 2016

The Rio Olympic Games are going to open in four months. This is normally a time when the final signs are being put up, security drills are carried out and volunteers complete their training. However, due to the political crisis featuring investigations on top politicians and business figures in Brazil, the Olympic Games are left in dilemma, with fears this could affect spectator turnout and security, reports Xinhua.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is facing an impeachment process that could lead to her removal from power before the opening ceremony on August 5 at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The worsening of her situation has seen her political allies quit the government, which has had an impact on the organization of the Olympic event.

Those leaving the government included George Hilton, who quit as sports minister at the end of March, to be replaced by Ricardo Leyser, just four months before the Games. Leyser has vowed the organization would not be affected but worries are lingering.

Another to depart was Colonel Adilson Moreira, head of the national security force, one of the main bodies charged with enforcing security during the Games. The president of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (ROCOG), Carlos Arthur Nuzman, admitted recently that the crisis was lamentable, but also vowed it would have no real impact on the Games. “The organization of the Games depends on many factors. the sports ministry is just one of them,” said Nuzman.

It has been said that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has expressed concerns to ROCOG about the political crisis and the change of sports minister. One of the consequences of the political crisis has been the deepening of the economic recession plaguing Brazil.

With inflation and unemployment rising, the Brazilians have not been in mood to buy Olympic tickets. Only around 50 percent of Olympic tickets have been sold so far and it’s just a deficient 12 percent for the Paralympics.

To avoid empty venues, Leyser has announced that the government would buy a number of tickets and distribute them to children from public schools.

A full change of government before the event would also bring a new sports minister, although this would not affect the top executives of ROCOG, a private organization.

On March 8, Rousseff was in Rio to inaugurate the Olympics Aquatics Stadium and stated that the country was still able to organize a great event.

“If we are capable of organizing the Olympics and the Paralympics, we are also capable of returning our country to growth,” she said, adding that it was necessary to find a place for consensus and dialogue.

Rousseff referred to the Olympics as “a symbol and an example for Brazil, which shows what people can do when they unite for the good of the Brazilian people.”

Doubts have also plagued the infrastructure built for the Olympics, including stadiums, venues, subways, airports, and other projects, which were all taken on by companies now under investigation within the giant Petrobras corruption ring.

The legality of these works, some of which are already directly tied to bribery and illicit contracts, is being investigated by Rio’s municipal government.

The taint hovering over these projects is yet another reminder to the Brazilian people that the world’s foremost sporting gala has come at a high price. (IANS)