A month ago, Breitbart brought you a list of alarming unresolved problems in Rio de Janeiro in anticipation of this week’s Olympics Opening Ceremony. That ceremony is scheduled for Friday, and officials are still struggling to resolve problems that threaten not only embarrassment for Brazil, but the lives of those attending the Games.
Below are five of the most outrageous dangers facing Olympic athletes and tourists as they partake in the quadrennial event:
The Zika epidemic in Latin America began in Brazil in February and has been the most persistent concern threatening the Olympics. The International Olympic Commission (IOC) and Brazilian officials have insisted the population of mosquito virus carriers (the aedes aegypti species) has diminished significantly since February as the Southern Hemisphere enjoys its winter. Medical experts insist that, even if this is true, there is little good reason to attract hundreds of thousands of global travelers to the epicenter of an epidemic for a short time, only to spread them and the virus across the globe.
“Mass migration into the heart of an outbreak is a public health no-brainer,” the University of Ottawa’s Amir Attaran wrote in May, shortly before signing a letter with 150 other health experts demanding the Olympics be postponed or moved to a safer venue.
Zika is lowest on the list because it is less likely to kill you than at least four other problems Olympics organizers are facing. For most adults who contract Zika, the virus carries with it no symptoms at all. For most of the other 20 percent, the symptoms are mild: aches, rashes, and conjunctivitis. For a very small minority of adults, however, Zika could trigger a deadly condition known as Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which could lead to paralysis and death. Zika also severely damages the brains of unborn children, often killing them in the womb.
4. Shoddy Infrastructure
The state of Rio de Janeiro has very little public money left to provide basic government services like police and state-run hospitals, and its governor has warned of a potential “public calamity” in the federal government in Brasilia. Despite blowing almost all its funds on building venues for the Olympics, athletes are complaining that they are being forced to live in humiliating conditions, and at least one Olympic infrastructure project – a foot and bicycle bridge – has collapsed, killing two people.
City workers had also worked slowly enough on the construction on a new subway line to Olympic venues that officials feared it would not be ready by Friday. The city opened that subway line on Monday, but the work was done so hastily, transit experts are concerned that the subway line will soon need repair.
Just in time for the Opening Ceremonies Monday, the first Islamic State (ISIS) terror cell in Latin America, Ansar al-Khalifah Brasil, published its pledge of allegiance to ISIS Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in July. ISIS supporters have been posting Portuguese-language propaganda on the encrypted communications application Telegram encouraging attacks, and at least thirteen people have been arrested for heeding the call, including one minor.
While Latin America has traditionally been less of a jihadist hotspot than much of the Eastern Hemisphere, Brazil has been a particular problem area for Islamic radicalism. A region known as the Tri-Border Area – which connects Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay – is known as an operations base for the Shiite terror organization Hezbollah. Brazilian police have even been arresting jihadists by mistake; last week, a “drug trafficker” arrested for petty crime confessed to being a high-ranking Hezbollah member.
2. Stray Bullets
While Rio de Janeiro may not be a traditional safe haven for jihadists, it has an extensive history of harboring violent crime, particularly drug-related crime and robberies. At least two Olympians and three athletes have been mugged so far – two Australian Paralympian sailors and a jiu-jitsu champion. (Jiu-jitsu is not an Olympic sport.) In the latter case, military police kidnapped the champion, New Zealander Jason Lee, and forced him to withdraw money from an ATM.
Meanwhile, the Souza Aguiar Municipal Hospital – the hospital designated for the use of Olympic athletes and tourists – became the victim of a siege in June when fifteen gunmen stormed the facility to free a drug kingpin known as “Fat Family,” killing a nurse and a patient in the process.
And on the streets of Rio, incidents of passersby killed by stray bullets have been on the rise. “Historically, unfortunately, that is how Rio de Janeiro is,” Brazil’s Secretary of Public Security José Mariano Beltrame said in response to the recent wave of stray bullet deaths.
Gunfights have occurred throughout the city, not just in its famed favela slums. According to the Agence France-Presse, “recent firefights have taken place near the Athletes’ Village in Barra and in Chapeu Mangueira, near Copacabana, which will host the beach volleyball and several other competitions.”
1. The Water
The silence of environmental groups in the face of the IOC handing Rio de Janeiro the Olympics may have led casual observers to believe that much of the city, including a number of pivotal sports venues, is a toxic wasteland. The worst of these is Guanabara Bay, which locals have nicknamed “The Latrine,” site of Olympic sailing. Athletes have begun training there, complaining their boats come out of the water looking like “toilets.” Experts warn athletes to keep their mouths closed near the water and be wary of even the sand.
An Associated Press study found that the “cleaner” beaches in Rio de Janeiro, including Ipanema and Copacabana, site of the marathon and beach volleyball, had major viral and bacterial buildup. In the waters of one beach, viral levels throughout the year reached 1.7 million times the safe limit in the United States. “At those concentrations, swimmers and athletes who ingest just three teaspoons of water are almost certain to be infected with viruses that can cause stomach and respiratory illnesses and more rarely heart and brain inflammation,” the AP notes.