2016 Olympics: The road to Rio

Maria Tkacz, Staff Writer

The summer of 2016 is approaching rapidly, bringing with it the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. In Brazil, preparation is in full swing, and the anticipation is tangible all around the world. However, as with all major events, the road to the Olympics is not easily paved and consists of roadblocks as well as excitement. This year, athletic fans everywhere can look forward to seeing competitions in archery, beach volleyball, and basketball, as well as in newly introduced sports, like golf, sevens rugby, and kitesurfng. The level of competition has also risen as many bright new athletes prepare to shine. Giarnni Regini-Moran, an artistic gymnast from Great Britain, has already won three gold medals in the Youth Olympics, and Si Yajie, a Chinese diver, is foreseen to be a major contender in her frst Olympic games. These are only a few among the many young athletes to be featured in 2016.

In addition, Michael Phelps has committed to competing in the 2016 Olympics. After a rocky period involving troubles with substance abuse, Phelps has announced his return to the pool. However, not all of our favorite stars will be coming back to the Games this year. NBA star Kobe Bryant has announced he will not be participating with the USA men’s basketball team this summer, as he explained that, “I think it’s the young guys’ turn to go and perform. I’ve had my moment.”

On the other hand, the severe water contamination in Rio is one of the more serious issues Brazil must solve before the games can begin, for the safety of the participants. Currently, the water that is slated to be used for swimming and boating competitions is so contaminated with viruses and bacteria from sewage that the athletes competing in these events risk falling ill. In fact, this has already occurred, with several athletes already having suffered from fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. In Brazil, where sewage is not properly treated, water contamination is not necessarily something out of the ordinary. Despite decades of pledging by the Brazilian government to fx this issue, it still remains quite prominent. Nevertheless, Brazilian offcials assure that everything is on track towards providing safe venues for the athletes during the Games. The amount of treated sewage has tripled since 2009, when it was originally decided that Brazil was to host the Olympics, and more than a billion dollars have been spent on clean up.

Brazil’s current recession also casts a dark shadow over the planning of the games. Brazil’s economy was in a much better state at the time of the original hosting announcement, but since then, the country has gone into a deep recession, one predicted to last through 2016. This could spell trouble for the country, as large events like the Olympics tend to overrun their budget, something that could mean a major strain for the economy. The hosting of such a global event often makes or breaks a country’s fnancial status, as with Greece’s current economic problems being partially linked to their hosting of the 2004 Olympics.

As for general issues, this year’s Olympics have generally gotten off to a slow start, both in construction and ticket sales. The recent rise of street crime has also become a concern, but city offcials remain confdent that these problems will not have an effect on the Olympics.

Issues such as those described are not uncommon when associated with a major world event like the Olympics. With only a couple of months left until the big event, the entire world is excited to see what the 2016 Games will have in store.