Reflecting on Rio olympics 2016

Katie Jonckheer, Arts and Culture Editor

   The summer Olympics take the media by storm for two hectic weeks every four years. Although the excitement has died down on American televisions, the host city continues to  confront the impacts of the events. For Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the games brought pride and creativity, but also violence, economic instability, and political unrest.

  The Olympics brought the political unrest in the country to light. Current mayor, Eduardo Paes, was booed on the night of the Olympic closing ceremony. The controversy about Paes was mostly due to the allegation that he was directing a disproportionate amount of Olympic funds towards the wealthy Barra da Tijuca region on the western side of Rio de Janeiro. This is especially controversial because Brazil has lately fallen plague to a multitude of corruption scandals which have, in the eyes of many, weakened Brazil’s reputation as a developing power on the world stage.

  Former president Dilma Rousseff was suspended from office in early May and was formally impeached on August 31st of this year. According to the BBC, the controversy surrounding her leadership was based on her handling of the economy: “Brazil’s economic woes started in 2011, when China began to decelerate and Brazilian commodities began losing value in international markets … The president and her team treated the decline as temporary and set in motion expensive stimulus measures … But China’s slower pace became the new normal, and all the measures taken by Brazil’s government soon became unsustainable.” The impeachment of the president only adds to the chaotic political environment that was present before, during, and unwaveringly after these games.

  Political unrest was not the only controversy at the games. Some pejorative headlines in the coverage of the games were: “It became a nightmare: Violence, corruption and economic woes in Rio show the Olympic model is broken” (National Post), and “Brazil: Rio’s Olympic legacy shattered with no let-up in killings by police” (Amnesty International). Violence in Rio is an ongoing issue: according to Amnesty International, “police in the city killed 35 people in April 2016, 40 in May and 49 in June – an average of more than one every single day”. The same website opines, “Brazil has lost the most important medal at play during Rio 2016: the chance to become a champion on human rights”; they define themselves as “a global movement of more than 7 million people who take injustice personally” and fight for human rights. Moreover, despite any publicity or opportunity for economic gain the games brought, “The government’s budget deficit this year, like last, is expected to equal about 10 percent of economic output, up from about 3 percent in 2013,” according to Reuters.

  Conversely, however, Rio’s handball arena, the Future Arena, was created with the concept of “temporary architecture”, according to a City Lab article about the fate of the arena. The same source explained that it will be “ … repurposed into four state-run schools in the nearby neighborhoods of Jacarepagua and Barra, and Sao Cristovao on the eastern coast. Each school will hold 500 students.” Other stadiums, such as the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing, have been left in their host cities and have required excessive maintenance and upkeep in the past, therefore this was a point of consideration when building this Olympic stadium. The proposed schools have not yet been built. Perhaps, for Rio and in the future, the Olympics will become not only a celebration of the world’s greatest athletes, but a celebration of the power of a group of people coming together to improve Rio through education.