By NAN Contributor
News Americas, RIO, Brazil, Tues. Aug. 16, 2016: It may look good on television but behind the scenes of Rio 2016, there are many problems the Brazilian authorities are being forced to deal with as they host this mega sporting event. Here are 6 you should know about:
The scourge of crime in the athletes’ village and outside of the venue is creating bad publicity for Brazil’s tourism. 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 robbery of US Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte and three other US swimmers – Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen – has made global headlines. The four were heading home from a party Sunday night when robbers posed as police, stopped their taxi and took their money. Lochte said one of the robbers also put a gun to his head. This comes on the heels of reports that the Olympic’s own security chief was attacked as he left the opening ceremony and mistakenly strayed into the notorious Vila do Joao favela and as the window of a media van was smashed by an unidentified object, and a stray bullet landed inside a media tent while another was found in the equestrian center’s secure stabling area.
It also comes just two months after the mugging of a Paralympic athlete at gunpoint in June and as Australian Olympians were robbed after the fire evacuation of their building in the Olympic Village shortly after the opening ceremony on August 5th.
The military is now escorting every Olympic vehicle from venues in the Deodoro section of the city.
Responding to security concerns, the Australian Olympic Committee told its 422 athletes that Ipanema and Copacabana beaches — two of Rio’s most popular tourist spots – are off-limits after 6 p.m. Australian athletes were told not to wear their team uniforms and to tuck their accreditation inside their shirts when socializing during the evening.
2: Food Shortages
Food shortages in stadium concession fans have been most noticeable. In Deodoro, the second-largest region in the Ri Olympic venues, concession stands ran out of food. By Tuesday, many had pared their menus, which once included chicken and sausage sandwiches, to hot dogs and cheeseburgers, with no condiments. At one stand, a few bags of potato chips sat on a mostly bare shelf behind the refrigerator. Rio organizers have acknowledged the food problems and say things are improving, with added food trucks, a bolstered workforce and sped-up lines.
3: Empty Seats
Only about 82 percent of the 6.1 million tickets made available have been sold. That is below ticket sales for London in 2012 and Beijing in 2008.
4: No Show Volunteers
Volunteers have reportedly been no-shows since collecting work outfits and complimentary wristwatches. Still, in their defense, many have taken to social media to complain that they don’t know to whom they are supposed to report. To that end, Mario Andrada, spokesman for the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, admitted that only about 20 percent of volunteers have shown up and added: “Volunteers are one of the things we are fine-tuning.”
5: Discolored Pools
Divers were complaining as the diving pool at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil turned from blue to green. Olympic swimming officials blamed a shortage of water-treatment chemicals for the problem. Water-polo players complained of stinging eyes, even as Rio officials said there was no danger to athletes’ health. An entire pool with millions of gallons of water had to be drained Saturday night ahead of the synchronized diving events Sunday.
6: Water Pollution
Sailboards and others competing on the Guanabara Bay have slammed it for pollution. Brazilian men’s RS:X sail-boarding finalist Ricardo Santos, speaking after the end of the men’s RS:X final on Sunday, cautioned that the lack of floating garbage and clearer-than-expected waters was likely due more to luck than any lasting solution. Promises to clean up the bay by building new sewers and sewage treatment plants and collecting tons of garbage washed into it by rain remained largely unmet, and a Belgian sailor who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics, reported feeling sick last week after racing on the Guanabara Bay. Her coach told the Belgian VRT network he believes Van Acker contracted a severe intestinal infection while training in Rio de Janeiro in July.
“Evi caught a bacteria in early July that causes dysentery,” coach Wil Van Bladel said. “Doctors say this can seriously disrupt energy levels for three months. It became clear yesterday that she lacked energy during tough conditions. She could not use full force for a top condition. … The likelihood that she caught it here during contact with the water is very big.”