LA Times: Rio Olympics Must Face Brazil’s Chaotic Political and Economic Reality

This story originally appeared at the LA Times:

With Brazil spiraling into political chaos and getting hit by a severe economic downturn, it’s easy to forget that Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Olympics in only four months.

The crisis of democracy is using up all the political oxygen in the country. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is facing possible impeachment — which she’s openly calling “a coup” — in front of a commission with more than half its members facing fraud or criminal charges. The political class in Brazil is rife with corruption.

Meanwhile Brazil’s economy is gyrating. The country is suffering its worst recession since the 1930s. All three major rating agencies have downgraded Brazil’s investment-grade credit rating. Add the Zika virus and you have a recipe for gridlock. Against this backdrop, the 2016 Rio Olympics have been relegated to mere afterthought.

This has been a godsend for the Rio 2016 Olympic Organizing Committee, which has bumbled clumsily through the pre-Games planning process. To be sure, it has improved mightily since 2014 when International Olympic Committee Vice President John Coates proclaimed Rio’s preparations “the worst I have experienced,” even “worse than Athens,” where construction for the 2004 Games fell so far behind that the IOC considered adding nailbiting as an Olympic sport.

As the Olympics approach, one question arises: Will venues be completed on time? In the modern history of the Olympics the answer has always been yes. Despite major advances in venue construction, many Games experts are concerned that Rio 2016 will flip the script.

Read the full story at the LA Times.


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