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This year's Winter Olympics had problems more fundamental than whether gay athletes and fans would be safe--infrastructure that should have been in place years before were still being built just days before the torch was lit.  It's not looking much better for Rio de Janeiro.  Two years before it's due to host the second Summer Olympics ever held in Latin America, Rio's preparations are drawing worldwide scorn.

Even as Brazil scrambles to finish an array of stadiums for the start of the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament in less than a month, it is already coming under scathing criticism for its handling of the next mega-event on its plate, the 2016 Summer Games.

Francesco Ricci Bitti, president of the influential association representing various Summer Olympic sports, said the Rio Games were in “the most risky position” of any Olympics he could remember. John D. Coates, an International Olympic Committee vice president, said last month that Rio’s preparations were “the worst I have experienced,” with construction yet to begin on the Deodoro sports complex, the second most important site after Olympic Park.

How bad is it?  Some officials think the situation is even worse than the run-up to the 2004 Games in Athens.

The most visible sign of Rio's problems is Guanabara Bay, which is due to host the sailing and windsurfing regattas.  But unless Brazil moves fast, those events will take place in one of the most polluted bodies of water in the world.  

Of all the challenges Brazil faces, cleaning up Guanabara Bay may be the toughest.

Officials vowed to tackle the problem after the United Nations Earth Summit here in 1992 drew scrutiny of Rio’s foul waters. The Rio state government secured more than $1 billion in loans from Japan’s government and the Inter-American Development Bank for cleanup projects, but they have not been even remotely successful, according to environmental experts. The State Environmental Institute in Rio de Janeiro estimates that more than 10 percent of the trash here is not collected, much of it flowing into the bay through canals and degraded rivers.

Vast amounts of raw sewage leak into the waters. Officials set a goal of treating as much as 80 percent of it by the 2016 Olympics, but less than 40 percent is currently treated.

It's not for a lack of money.  However, well-financed efforts to get rid of the filth have foundered as a result of Brazil's notorious corruption.  The result is a bay that, according to Brazilian biologist Mario Moscatelli, is a "latrine."  according to Brazilian Olympic hopeful Thomas Low-Beer, frequently turns brown from untreated wastewater and is laden with garbage.  His boat hit a partially submerged sofa and dumped him into the water.  Austria's Nico Delle Karth was scared to dip his toes in the water to launch his boat.  The German sailing team, with typical bluntness, wrote a blog post entitled "Welcome to the dump that is Rio."  The German version is even more scathing--translated on Bing, the title means "Welcome to garbage heaven."

There are various other problems as well.  Construction on several venues has been delayed by strikes and protests over forced evictions.  The cycling venue had to be torn down due to falling short of Olympic standards--and its replacement will cost 10 times what the original cost.  Despite this, publicly officials insist the Games won't be moved from Rio.  But unless things get moving and fast, we may have to be very afraid for our athletes in two years.

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Comment Preferences

  •  But they promised! That's why we gave it to them! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rileycat, GoGoGoEverton

    Daley must be calling up the IOC going "I told you so".

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Mon May 19, 2014 at 06:56:58 AM PDT

  •  Just a reminder (3+ / 0-)

    The USA team has qualified for the finals of the World Cup. The state of various stadia around the country is causing concern in many countries. Although test events have been held (the last over the weekend), these were hardly vigorous as some of the seating has yet to be installed and the stadia finished:

    Now all 12 World Cup stadiums have held test events. None of the test matches were held at full capacity, however, as there is still a lot of work left to be done at the venues, including the installation of seats.

    Some of the problems at the Itaquerao were related to its unfinished roof. It rained heavily late in the first half and there was hail falling at halftime, forcing some of the fans to scramble for cover because not all seats were protected.

    The construction company in charge of the venue confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday that glass covers that had to be installed in part of the roof will not be ready until after the World Cup, so the same problem could happen during the tournament next month.

    There have already been violent demonstrations against the expenditure for the World Cup and Olympics and the quasi-military operations to "pacify" the favellas.

    "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Mon May 19, 2014 at 07:06:28 AM PDT

      Recommended by:

      But I think that we are out in the Boondocks in Manaus, Recife and Natal; away from the more dangerous areas of Rio and Sao Paulo?

      After we win all 3 games and go to the next round; we might end up in a bigger, more dangerous city.

      It's pretty ironic that the most financially successful World Cup (most ticket sales, no new stadiums, almost no renovations except for trucking in real grass to place on top of artificial turf.) was held in a country where most residents hate soccer or are indifferent to it.

      "states like VT and ID are not 'real america'" -icemilkcoffee

      by Utahrd on Mon May 19, 2014 at 08:41:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If a country has no infrastructure like working (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DrTerwilliker, AnnieR, JeffW, Rosalie907

    sewers for the PEOPLE, then they don't get to have the games

    and don't get me started on the middle east and the people dying to build stadiums,,,,,UGH

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Mon May 19, 2014 at 07:30:17 AM PDT

  •  When the best the cops can offer is "dont scream (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    when youre being robbed. Its more likely you'll be killed if you do", I know that sure makes me want to head to the World Cup. Some OTHER year.

    "Dont struggle and you might live thru it!" - The official slogan of the 2014 World Cup.

  •  The Olympics are now a boondoggle anyway (6+ / 0-)

    Billions wasted on buildings that rarely get used again and corruption.

    Hillary does not have the benefit of a glib tongue.

    by The Dead Man on Mon May 19, 2014 at 08:02:16 AM PDT

    •  The stunning corruption and inhumanity of Sochi (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aximill, JeffW, ssmt, The Dead Man, codairem

      Should be the death knell of the Olympics. The Games have turned into nothing but a legal way for governments to funnel billions to cronies (better than the US system of creating phony wars, anyway), and allowing them in countries that have outrageous institutionalized human rights violations - as long as those countries funnel Olympic 'fees' back to the IOC, and the bank accounts of Olympic officials. It's sickening and a sham now.

      "Jika Anda membutuhkan produk untuk meningkatkan kualitas hubungan seksual Anda atau membutuhkan produk obat pembesar penis!" - Bintangpasutri

      by Fordmandalay on Mon May 19, 2014 at 08:26:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Absolutely agreed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fordmandalay, codairem

        I was living in BC before the 2010 Olympics and although there were some infrastructure improvements, the main one being upgrading the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler, which before was an often terrifying 2 lane highway winding through the mountains, it became obvious that the main beneficiaries were well connected contractors.   My main memory of the actual games were inconveniences and far warmer weather than anyone might have expected (hello climate change)

        I haven't watched any Olympics since, probably never will.  It's not about the athletes, it's about funneling money away from useful public projects into the hands of contractors and buddies of politicians.

  •  The greatest moment in Colombian history (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OIL GUY, codairem

    Thank you, Belisario Betancur!

    Colombia was originally chosen as hosts [of the 1986 World Cup] by FIFA in June 1974. However, the Colombian authorities eventually declared in November 1982 that they could not afford to host the World Cup under the terms that FIFA demanded because of economic concerns

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Mon May 19, 2014 at 08:13:56 AM PDT

  •  At least they don't have to delay the Olympics 6 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, slapshoe

    months like they did the world cup in Qatar because it dangerously hot to play at that time of year. Seriously though it seems the Olympics has become a mechanism  for economically emerging countries to show they matter on the world stage with scant regard for the impact on their citizens.

  •  Another argument to have permanent Olympics (4+ / 0-)

    I've heard from various places arguments to have a permanent host city or two for the Winter and Summer Olympics.

    The Olympics rarely helps a city out economically and often leaves the host city, if not country, in massive financial debt. The corruption from building in Sochi, and likely in Beijing, Athens and now Rio, is an ongoing problem. The environment frequently suffers from the construction as much as the people who are evicted from their homes for the stadiums.

    Permanent sites for the Olympics would be contentious, but maybe we could get away with 4 global sites, hosting in a rotating manner.

    •  Well, we just had our standard corruption (0+ / 0-)

      Salt Lake City got a new light rail line out of the Olympics that Republicans use to ride to their jobs in law firms and the Latter Day Saint Church office buildings.

      And a rich Republican got some prime land for his ski resort in exchange for some worthless land in the middle of nowhere.

      London, Vancouver, Salt Lake City, Germany (2006 World Cup) and even South Africa (2010 World Cup) hosted major international sporting events without too much disruption.

      If you have a legal and political framework that doesn't put up with corruption in the first place; you can put on a pretty good event.

      "states like VT and ID are not 'real america'" -icemilkcoffee

      by Utahrd on Mon May 19, 2014 at 11:31:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Should have awarded them to Chicago (0+ / 0-)

    the woman who is easily irritated

    by chicago minx on Mon May 19, 2014 at 09:12:00 AM PDT

  •  London on standby (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chicago minx

    I heard that London has been advised that they are on standby by the Olympic Committee.  Too bad, this should be a feather in the cap of Rio and Brazil and will make it harder for other South American countries to host future Olympics.

    Never be afraid to voice your opinion and fight for it . Corporations aren't people, they're Republicans (Rev Al Sharpton 10/7/2011) Voting is a louder voice than a bullhorn but sometimes you need that bullhorn to retain your vote.

    by Rosalie907 on Mon May 19, 2014 at 09:23:26 AM PDT

  •  Just like the World Cup. Brazilians aren't happy (0+ / 0-)

    about the amount of money flowing out, and they're going to be REALLY pissed of that money goes to waste bc the games are moved.

    While you dream of Utopia, we're here on Earth, getting things done.

    by GoGoGoEverton on Mon May 19, 2014 at 09:36:48 AM PDT

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