The situation with the Rio Olympics becomes more untenable every day. It’s like watching a terrible train wreck about to happen and not being able to do anything about it.
You’ve got a governing structure—at all levels, federal, state and local—that would win gold medals in every category covering abuse of basic civil rights and institutionalized corruption. Violent crime (assault, robbery, rape) is so far out of control that the regular cops can’t handle it so the army is used to patrol portions of the country and Rio de Janeiro itself.
The country is walking on the edge of a political-economic cliff and it’s not impossible to imagine a military coup or popular revolt.
And, of course, the Zika virus has everyone who might be traveling there for the games very, very worried; As well they might be… The disease is in no way under control and actually seems to be spreading. Recently, 150 health experts urged the World Health Organization to consider recommending a delay or relocation of the games.
Not only is Zika spreading locally in the city and state of Rio de Janeiro (where the Olympic village, stadiums other venues are located), but hundreds of thousands of people traveling to the games means thousands of potential carriers traveling back to all parts of the world.
The icing on this decadent and dysfunctional cake is the “shocking discovery” (like when gambling was discovered in the back room of Rick’s Cafe)—the astounding revelation that there were wide-spread doping violations, both individual and government sponsored, during the last two Olympics in Beijing and London. There are dozens of athletes from several countries and even one entire country (Russia) that might be banned from competition.
But, as we all realize, the show will go on. There’s too much nationalistic vanity and dirty money involved for common sense and even basic safety to stop it. The government of Brazil is broke, busted. But who cares? Billions of dollars (where did it come from?) that could feed and house tens of thousands of desperately poor people has been spent on lavish housing for athletes and for stadiums that will probably be overgrown with weeds within weeks of the ending of the games.
Obviously, the simple solution (if solutions were based on honesty, pure love of sport and common sense) would be to build a permanent Olympic village, stadiums and venues in one or two countries (for the winter and summer games). The whole world could share in the expense and divide equally whatever profit there might be. This would at least go part way to restoring the feeling of pure competition to the Olympics and take away the archaic nonsense of nationalism and the stain of crooked money that now prevails.
I really like watching the Olympics (especially the summer games) and I will probably watch these… But—it gets harder all the time to ignore the political, economic and social decay that surrounds all the Triumph of the Will-type performances and head-in-the-sand commercial-driven TV fairytales.
The only people caught up in (and connected to) this extremely dubious enterprise that I feel sympathy for are: 1) The poor and displaced who will suffer even more because Brazil is hosting the games; and, 2) The athletes, who will be risking their health and the health of their families to compete. Most of these athletes have spent their lives dreaming of (and training for) the Olympics. It’s sad that they have to compete in such terrible surroundings and under such shameful circumstances.
The Olympics were suspended three times during the two World Wars of the Twentieth Century. Well, isn’t the world at war now? Aren’t the rich (and the richest countries) engaged in a war against the poor (and all the rest of us); isn’t a large portion of the world at war with fringe fundamentalist Islam (and some Christian sects)? And isn’t the world at war with itself—trying to commit global suicide by man-made global warming and archaic nationalist power struggles?
I say, (sorry, athletes) let’s take a break; clean up our own messes, then put the Olympics back on the calendar.