Brazil is trying to get ready for the Summer Olympics starting in just a few weeks. (Try? There is no try; do or do not. Yoda, Jedi Master) Unfortunately there are, well, complications, complications based upon corruption, incompetence, lack of funding, etc. This scenario has played out before a number of times. Remember Greece? Remember Sochi, Russia? In each case, the host country heroically pulled through and “The Games” went on with relatively few hitches. This time, though, we may be witnessing an historic face plant.
I was part of the effort to bring the 2016 Games to Chicago, IL, USA even though I am not the biggest fan of the world sport fest. I was doing it in support of my sport (archery) and the city I now call home. When the “voting” occurred, Chicago lost out in the first round, and eventually Rio de Janeiro won out, primarily because the Olympics had never been held in South America before. Nowhere in the qualification packets, of course, did it say that extra points would be granted for “opening up a new continent,” but basically I am suspicious of processes that are described as being “open” when they are followed by secret ballots, especially in organizations that have been proven to being somewhat addicted to corruption.
Trust me, I was relieved when Chicago did not get the bid, but I will also be saddened if this Olympics is riddled with structural flaws. I am especially hopeful that spectator stands don’t collapse and kill people, and that the effect of the Zika virus is nonexistent, but those are just hopes.
The Olympics is overblown to the extreme, primarily because of nationalism and jingoistic ceremonies. What do you think “The Games” would be like if only the athlete’s names were provided? That all of the flags, national anthems, country names sewn on the backs of jackets, medal count total lists (by country!), national colors in uniforms, etc. were banned? I think the support of the various countries, both independent and government-sponsored would dry up quickly. The truth of the matter is we are not trying to relish the performances of gifted human beings, we are going through an exercise of national pride, which is why countries pay so much money to send “their” athletes. There are even countries which have mapped out minor sports in which they think they could excel, then massively supported those sports to be able to claim Olympic glory.
The Brazilian people, of course, have been left out of this, other than to be used as laborers and tax payers. At the same time there are political and institutional crises in Brazil that desperately need attention. National humiliation through a failed Olympics will be a smear on the entire country, but might just help discredit the leaders who have pushed this idea so that more responsible people can take a whack at solving Brazil’s real problems, other than the unreal, self-inflicted wounds received from hosting a huge sport festival.