Let the games begin, or not. Scheduled to start in Brazil in August, the Rio Olympics is probably the most jinxed international sports event ever, with so many issues plaguing it that there’s an ongoing debate whether it’s even worth holding.
1. The Zika Virus. Fear of the Zika virus is not only affecting ticket sales, but also participation by reluctant athletes. The latest sportsperson to withdraw was star golfer Rory McIlroy on Wednesday, who said he would not be representing his native Ireland because, he said, “my health, and my family’s health, comes before everything else” — a sentiment shared by many athletes.
2. Political and Economic Turmoil. Last week, the Rio Games officials warned that there could be ‘a total collapse of public security, health, education, transport, and environment management’ unless funds were pumped in by donors. Impeachment of the President Dilma Rousseff has also cast a gloom over the country, hardly conducive to the positivity that Olympic games are supposed to generate.
3. Pollution. A drug-resistant ‘super-bacteria’ was reported in areas where swimming, rowing and canoeing events are scheduled to be held. The bug can cause UTIs, gastro and pulmonary infections and meningitis. Small wonder then, that international sports teams are skeptical about Rio’s preparation for the Games.
4. Doping Allegations. Ahead of the Games, suspicion about athletes being involved in doping to enhance performance are marring the image of the tournament. Only last week, Russia’s track and field team was banned from participating because of doping accusations.
5. Security Concerns. Safety is a big issue in the Brazilian capital city, where street crimes are on the rise, and participants, as well as spectators, are wary. In the past week, members of Spain’s sailing team were robbed at gunpoint at a local tourist spot. Also, Australian paralympian Liesl Tesch was mugged and deprived of her bicycle while on a practice run.