Optimistic Olympic Committee Says Games Will ‘Unite’ Chaotic Brazil

Protesters against Dilma Rousseff, Brazil's president, burn a figure in Rousseff's likeness after watching a televised broadcast of the country's lower house of Congress voting in favor of Rousseff's impeachment at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sunday, April 17, 2016. Rousseff's presidency is hanging by a thread …
Nadia Sussman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee said on Monday that it is “closely following” the political crisis in Brazil, but it does not expect the beginning of impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff to interfere with the Summer Olympic games in Rio.

In fact, an IOC spokesman expressed optimism that the games could bring a divided Brazilian populace together.

“We have seen the great progress being made and we remain confident about the success of the Olympic Games this summer,” said the spokesman. “The Brazilian people will deliver a memorable Olympic Games full of passion for sport for which they are world renowned.”

“The Olympic Games will deliver an important legacy and provide an important opportunity to unite the people of Brazil no matter their background or political views,” the IOC added.

The lower house of the Brazilian congress voted overwhelmingly to impeach Rousseff over the weekend, prompting the leader of her party’s caucus to declare, “The fight is now in the courts, the street, and the Senate.”

That is not usually the sort of thing the International Olympic Committee wants to hear, a little over a hundred days before the opening ceremony of the Games.

The UK Guardian reports that after the Senate agrees to consider the impeachment motion, Rousseff “will have to step aside for 180 days and the Workers party government, which has ruled Brazil since 2002, will be at least temporarily replaced by a centre-right administration led by vice-president Michel Temer.”

One of the Guardian’s anecdotes from the rowdy impeachment session was a “far-right deputy from Rio de Janeiro” who dedicated his vote for impeachment to the colonel who headed the unit that tortured Rousseff when she was captured as a guerrilla, prompting a left-wing deputy to spit at him. That does not sound like the sort of disagreement that will fade into the background while everyone watches the synchronized swimming competition.

CNN describes Rousseff as “defiant” against the impeachment vote, which she denounced as a “coup.” She is accused of “breaking budgetary laws by borrowing from state banks to cover a shortfall in Brazil’s deficit and pay for popular social programs” — conduct she insists was accepted from her predecessors, although her critics say she took it much further than they did.

Rousseff agreed with the IOC that the Olympics would go forward, despite her political troubles, a crippling economic recession, and the Zika viral outbreak.

“We worked hard to make the Olympic Games happen. I think we may even be further advanced than was expected,” she said at a news conference on Tuesday.

CNN relayed a report from organizers that only 55 percent of tickets to the Olympics have been sold, but also noted that hotels in Rio are almost fully booked for the games, with few cancellations.


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