We start this morning with more news about Rio and the concerns many have in Rio’s ability to finish its projects in time for the Summer Olympics in 2016. Some doubt the decision to choose Rio, but there are a number of positive factors to consider. Recently, a US reporter visited the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission in Rio to learn about its progress (or in Rio’s case, its lethargic process). Although another reporter remarked to the author of this article that things in Brazil “get done in the end just fine…but they are always last minute,” their apparent lack of organization and other glaring faults questions Rio’s ability to pull itself out of this one.
From there, the article shifts gears and focuses on the number of positives in having a country like Brazil host the Olympics. First, Rio’s hosting of the Olympics will mark the first time a South American country has ever played host to any Olympics. It will occur in a new country, on a new continent, and in a new area of the world. Brazil scores a second point based on its rich and beautiful architecture, numerous landmarks (Sugar Loaf Mountain, Copacobana Beach), bays, and the “energy and vitality of the Brazilian people.” The author goes into great detail about how the Brazilian people helped him out in situations where he found himself lost (navigating the train station, walking around), and found that in dealing with people, they were quite friendly, even though their English was choppy at best. Although the author’s tour was limited in browsing many of the sites Rio has to offer, the few places the author did visit revealed how much thought and care Rio put into its designs for the venues to depict its culture.
Rio scores a hat-trick (three) when people realize that, aside from four football (soccer) stadiums, all of the competitions will take place in Rio – a feat that few previous Olympics Games offer. Finally, Brazilians exude a passion for many sports – even the ones that receive less worldwide attention, which makes it an ideal location to host an Olympic event.
Unfortunately, much of the issues Brazil face seem to overwhelm the number of positive aspects. Arguably the biggest concern is water pollution. While the events in the water may offer spectacular views, a substantial amount of sewage, waste, and other foreign matter plague the water. While Rio created plans to correct its water pollution by 2016, rumors indicate that Rio has no intention of keeping the pollution at bay post-Olympic competition. A second concern is security. While security is always a concern at any major event, “a recent shooting out in the Manguinhos favela complex” and a government leak admitting that there is “a difficult relationship between people and society in Rio” reflects a disconcerning notion that safety is particularly problematic in Rio. The article downplays safety as a concern in encouraging visitors to “remain vigilant” and to stay away from the favela regions.
A third area that I touched on in a previous article is Rio’s anti-doping capability – or more realistically, its incapability. Unfortunately, Federal University, Rio’s main laboratory for testing, failed to meet dope testing standards for the World Cup. As a result, Switzerland will take possession of the samples after they are collected, and will test them in its own laboratories. However, Rio insists that it will comply with the standards in time for the Games. Substantial pressure from the IOC and WADA remain, which may aid Rio in its goal to comply with the requisite standards.
Rio is way behind in its venue completions, which make this issue number four. Rio claims that the “venues are there,” and that it will not take as much work as people think. However, the substantial disconnect between the federal, state and city governments does not offer much hope for reconciliation. Transparency and corruption (not to mention the rudeness) increase the tally marks to five. Evidently, phrases such as “the c-word” and “you cannot track the money” and other alarming speech pervade Brazilian talk.
Rio’s inability to control its administrative problems brings the total concerns to six. Last week, Rio dealt with a scandal within its volleyball organization, but Rio is trying to overcome these issues by being completely open with the public in how it manages its funds and what bids and contracts Rio endorsed. Finally, Rio struggles with a legacy problem. In other words, it is uncertain how Rio 2016 will better the people around it moving past the Games. Rio is working to achieve a strong legacy by the increasing the amount of jobs, improving public education and improvements to the public transportation systems. These issues seem to stem from attitude. Since the World Cup is less concerned with reaching out to the wider community, its desire to finish its projects on time lessened, making its attitude lackadaisical. In contrast, the attitude towards Rio 2016 is nothing but hopeful, energetic and exciting, as Rio believes it will help its nation immensely. Hopefully, both events will turn out fantastic so that South America will remain in the hunt for future bid solicitations.
Note from a separate but related article: the IOC is quite displeased with the snail-like pace Rio trudges at, which is forcing the IOC to pressure Rio to act faster and finish its projects on time. For instance, there are budget concerns: “Brazilian organizers have so far budgeted for 24 of the 52 projects that will be built for the Games and the cost is already at 44 percent of the original estimate.” Security is of paramount importance, and the idea that it may “feel safe” at times might be in question. Recently, drug gangs attacked police stations near the Maracana Stadium – the location of the World Cup next year – and its attack has only increased concerns over the safety of the athletes, coaches, workers, and fans.
Prosecutors presented a “golden thread” piece of evidence in “suggesting Reeva Steenkamp screamed before she died,” which shows an increased likelihood that Pistorius murdered his girlfriend. Pistorius must answer the question of how neighbors heard Reeva Steenkamp screaming prior to her death, as it goes against his own testimony of self-defense and his lacking of knowledge in not knowing who the intruder was at the time he repeatedly fired his gun. The testimony of three neighbors testified that they heard Steenkamp scream prior to the firing of the gunshots bolstered the murder charge. In addition, the pathologist who testified said “it would’ve been ‘abnormal’ for her not to scream from some of her injuries.” A policeman’s testimony on the ballistics of the shooting suggested that Steenkamp “had time to yell” during the shooting; the second shot missed, giving ample time for Steenkamp to yell prior to suffering two more shots from Pistorius’ gun. Du Toit, a defense lawyer not associated with the case, recognized the strength of the prosecution’s case in contending that Pistorius murdered her.
The defense’s contention remains fixed on the idea that the police botched the investigation. Du Toit’s opinion indicates that Pistorius’ own testimony and the defense’s ballistics and forensic experts will serve as the keys to preventing Pistorius from assuming a murder verdict. The prosecution will conclude its presentation of its case sometime next week. The Court will stop the case during the week of April 7, and will pick up again on April 14.
Former Irish priest Neil Horan’s accepted application to run in the London Marathon was recently revoked based on his history of disrupting major sporting events. In 2003, Horan nearly died after “running on the track during Formula One’s British Grand Prix” in protest of the sport. At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Horan “ran out on to the course and grabbed hold of Vanderlei de Lima.” His brash actions “almost certainly cost the Brazilian distance runner a gold medal.” Horan hoped to run as an act of redemption for his past mistakes, and it has been ten years since an incident occurred on his behalf. However, Tegan Jones, head of fundraising for St John Ambulance, a voluntary first-aid charity, wrote: “It has been brought to our attention that [Neil Horan has] a history of disrupting major sporting events and [holds] extremist religious views which are not in line with St John Ambulance charity’s values.” Hopefully, Horan’s revocation will not lead to an attempt to disrupt the London Marathon.
The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) will host its first Olympic Academy conference since 1991 to discuss “focus on Olympism, Olympic and Paralympic issues and athlete development, with the objective being to create a national forum for the exchange of ideas.” The conference will take place at the 1984 Los Angeles Foundation Headquarters next month. Not all of the members are mentioned, but you can glance at the website to see what members USOC chose thus far. One topic I would like to see the USOC discuss is a stationary Olympic Games venue that could be used for later international competitions of great importance.
Rounding out the day, the last article examines Kenya and how it has dominated distance running from the 800m to the marathon.