Rio organizers playing down massive problems with the games

Brazil is not supposed to be a third world country. But considering the huge problems afflicting the venues and the games themselves, you would never know it.

Reuters:

From security and empty stands to problematic transportation, volunteer and venue issues and even a lack of standard Olympic branding around the stadiums, the Rio Games are facing a myriad problems five days into competition.

"It is clear that everything we do in life, when we look back we believe we could do better," Games spokesman Mario Andrada said on Thursday. "It is the first Olympics in South America and first sport event of this kind for the Brazilian public."

"We reached the Games in a very significant economic crisis. Political changes also affected the mood of the Brazilian people," he said.

When Rio was awarded the Olympics in 2009 the country was seeing near double-digit annual growth. Economic conditions, however, have meant organizers ran out of cash years before the Games kicked off.

The pending impeachment trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff and her replacement, interim President Michel Temer, have further fanned discontent among Brazilians.

Spectators, unlike London in 2012, have not rushed to snap up tickets and television pictures, broadcast around the world, show empty seats in almost every venue, with only the Opening Ceremony selling out.

"I am not running away from the question. Things could have been done better and we'll learn from this and do better at the next big event but we have no regrets," Andrada said.

Security was always a major concern and armed robberies on athletes and media as well as an attack with rocks on a media bus have only heightened fears.

Shots were also fired in the vicinity of the equestrian center with two bullets discovered there in the past days.

In the latest security incident, gunmen fired on a military police car which strayed into the entrance of a slum not far from the Maracana stadium which will host the athletics competition in the city center.

Three members of the patrol were wounded, one critically.

Despite these problems, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), long criticized for handing the Games to a country that is in more need of social welfare projects than stadiums, said the Games would deliver on promises.

Water in the pools turning green for lack of chemicals, short circuiting security procedures because of the long wait times for fans to get in, and most critical of all, a volunteer system that is collapsing due to incompetence:

The army of volunteers meant to keep the Games running smoothly has been fraying. Volunteers report that numerous would-be co-workers have been no-shows since collecting work outfits and complimentary wristwatches, leaving venues short-staffed.

Many have complained on Facebook that they don’t know to whom they are supposed to report. On Wednesday, some volunteers were reassigned on the fly to operate technical equipment at the Olympic golf course.

“Volunteers are one of the things we are fine-tuning,” said Mario Andrada, spokesman for the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, acknowledging that at some venues, just 20% of expected volunteers have shown up.

Andreia Barros, a 30-year-old fundraiser for social projects in São Paulo who applied to be a volunteer, said she received a letter from the Olympic committee in late July inviting her to work at the Maracanã venue.

She said she accepted, but is still awaiting further instructions.

“I’ve taken off 15 days to dedicate myself to being a volunteer and unfortunately I’m here, without a schedule, at home,” she said.

Security remains a significant challenge. Clashes between criminal gangs and security forces continued to simmer in pockets of Rio on Thursday, with police officers ambushed on patrol in one large slum while a military-style operation took place in another.

The military is now escorting every Olympic vehicle from venues in the Deodoro section of the city, Mr. Andrada said Thursday.

And the games still have a fortnight to go.

There is going to be a tragedy at these Olympics unless organizers and the police can do a much better job. Given the incompetence demonstrated so far, you have to wonder if ISIS or al-Qaeda has already set a terrorist plot in motion that would appear to have a fair chance of success. 

Then again, with TV ratings tanking, perhaps they won't even bother.

 

 

 

Brazil is not supposed to be a third world country. But considering the huge problems afflicting the venues and the games themselves, you would never know it.

Reuters:

From security and empty stands to problematic transportation, volunteer and venue issues and even a lack of standard Olympic branding around the stadiums, the Rio Games are facing a myriad problems five days into competition.

"It is clear that everything we do in life, when we look back we believe we could do better," Games spokesman Mario Andrada said on Thursday. "It is the first Olympics in South America and first sport event of this kind for the Brazilian public."

"We reached the Games in a very significant economic crisis. Political changes also affected the mood of the Brazilian people," he said.

When Rio was awarded the Olympics in 2009 the country was seeing near double-digit annual growth. Economic conditions, however, have meant organizers ran out of cash years before the Games kicked off.

The pending impeachment trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff and her replacement, interim President Michel Temer, have further fanned discontent among Brazilians.

Spectators, unlike London in 2012, have not rushed to snap up tickets and television pictures, broadcast around the world, show empty seats in almost every venue, with only the Opening Ceremony selling out.

"I am not running away from the question. Things could have been done better and we'll learn from this and do better at the next big event but we have no regrets," Andrada said.

Security was always a major concern and armed robberies on athletes and media as well as an attack with rocks on a media bus have only heightened fears.

Shots were also fired in the vicinity of the equestrian center with two bullets discovered there in the past days.

In the latest security incident, gunmen fired on a military police car which strayed into the entrance of a slum not far from the Maracana stadium which will host the athletics competition in the city center.

Three members of the patrol were wounded, one critically.

Despite these problems, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), long criticized for handing the Games to a country that is in more need of social welfare projects than stadiums, said the Games would deliver on promises.

Water in the pools turning green for lack of chemicals, short circuiting security procedures because of the long wait times for fans to get in, and most critical of all, a volunteer system that is collapsing due to incompetence:

The army of volunteers meant to keep the Games running smoothly has been fraying. Volunteers report that numerous would-be co-workers have been no-shows since collecting work outfits and complimentary wristwatches, leaving venues short-staffed.

Many have complained on Facebook that they don’t know to whom they are supposed to report. On Wednesday, some volunteers were reassigned on the fly to operate technical equipment at the Olympic golf course.

“Volunteers are one of the things we are fine-tuning,” said Mario Andrada, spokesman for the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, acknowledging that at some venues, just 20% of expected volunteers have shown up.

Andreia Barros, a 30-year-old fundraiser for social projects in São Paulo who applied to be a volunteer, said she received a letter from the Olympic committee in late July inviting her to work at the Maracanã venue.

She said she accepted, but is still awaiting further instructions.

“I’ve taken off 15 days to dedicate myself to being a volunteer and unfortunately I’m here, without a schedule, at home,” she said.

Security remains a significant challenge. Clashes between criminal gangs and security forces continued to simmer in pockets of Rio on Thursday, with police officers ambushed on patrol in one large slum while a military-style operation took place in another.

The military is now escorting every Olympic vehicle from venues in the Deodoro section of the city, Mr. Andrada said Thursday.

And the games still have a fortnight to go.

There is going to be a tragedy at these Olympics unless organizers and the police can do a much better job. Given the incompetence demonstrated so far, you have to wonder if ISIS or al-Qaeda has already set a terrorist plot in motion that would appear to have a fair chance of success. 

Then again, with TV ratings tanking, perhaps they won't even bother.