Impeachment, Zika and the Olympics

We are 84 days out from the opening ceremony of the 2016 summer Olympics, and until yesterday I had completely forgot. I laughed at myself when I realized I forgot about the world’s largest sporting event, but the thing is there is way too much going on in Rio de Janeiro already.

Rio has been slated to be the 2016 host since 2006. Four years ago, when the summer games were wrapping up in London, I was ready for 2016. Currently sitting less than three months out, part of me wishes the event would get postponed.

This should have been a monumental Olympic Games. It is the first to be hosted by a South American country. Because of this fact it will still be monumental, but for issues that the media has brought to our attention in the past year not concerning the Games, the event will be out-shined and overlooked.

The first thing on the table is the Zika virus. It began to make headlines in the summer 2015 when Brazil became the first country in the America’s to suffer an outbreak. Originally all that was known about the virus was that it was extremely harmful to pregnant women and babies. But now it seems that the virus can spread through sexual relations, and not just pregnant women are at risk. Just earlier this month the United States suffered its first fatality from Zika.

Doctors have warned that the 2016 Olympic Games could spark a “full-blown public health disaster.” Dr. Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa wrote in the Harvard Public Health Review on May 12 that the games could speed up the spread of the virus and suggested changing the location of the event or even postponing it.

It’s too close to the games for any containment efforts to be successful at this point, but Brazil has failed drastically at trying to contain the virus since the onset.

While health is of growing concern for athletes and spectators, joining Zika at the table is political unrest. After a 20-hour senate session, Brazil’s governing body announced Thursday morning that it reached the decision to impeach President Dilma Rousseff. The vote was 55-22 in favor of impeachment. The trial could last as long as six months, which will suspend Rousseff from her duties during the games.

In office since 2011, Rousseff has helped continue the 13-year reign of “The Workers Party” by continuing to pull millions of people out of poverty. The funny thing is the country is in its deepest recession since the 1930s. With one of the largest economies in the world, Brazil has the ability to hurt world markets.

The country has been sorting through the mess of a potential impeachment for months, and uncontrollable protests have been a regular occurrence. There is no sign that things could change in terms of unrest prior to the opening ceremony.

To top the table off we are adding a $3 billion corruption scandal by state run oil giant, Petrobras. Waters are polluted where events such as sailing and rowing will take place. The state of Rio de Janeiro chopped $550 million from its security budget. The cut of about 20 percent won’t be good if protests become more out of control. And lastly, the state made $500 million cuts to balance the operating budget. How can the country be secure enough to host the Olympics?

On the plus side, if you are interested in going to the 2016 Summer Games, ticket sales are down, so you just might be able to find a great deal.


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