When the Olympics roll around every two years — counting both Summer and Winter — the games are supposed to elicit feelings of hope, sportsmanship, and national pride. But in reality, they often leave debt, controversy, and decrepit, abandoned Olympic venues in their wake. Hosting the games will ideally pump prestige and dollars into hosting cities, but recently, the process has seemed to cause grief and headaches in abundance.
Olympics fans were recently blessed with some pretty smooth ceremonies with the Beijing, Vancouver, and London games. These successes showcased what it means to host this tradition. But the Sochi Winter Olympics were a stunning reminder that when things go wrong, oh man, do they go wrong. And as the Rio de Janeiro Summer Games fast approach, viewers are starting to glimpse the same issues. #SochiProblems are starting to morph into #RioProblems. And many of the same issues plagued by the former city are now settling into the latter at a more alarming rate. Let’s compare what happened in Sochi with what could very well happen in Rio.
Filth, Pestilence … And The Weather
Ideally, those countries who win the honor of becoming Olympic host will tidy up to make sure the visiting athletes, dignitaries, and members of the press corps are comfortable. Neither Sochi nor Rio made sure they were adequately prepared to host such an event.
From the outset, the city of Sochi was not at all ready to be considered a host city. Keith Olbermann even called it “Russia’s Detroit.” Russia had violated numerous human rights laws, and boarding was not remotely close to being done for visitors. Further, animals were being slaughtered as a matter of convenience, and the water could have been described as “dangerous.” In addition, Sochi was experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures, which caused terrible course conditions and no snow, which is a no-brainer requirement for any Winter games.
Not to be outdone, the Rio Summer Games already have their own share of problems. Sewage and pollution issues have turned the normally beautiful city into a cesspool of disease. The Associated Press conducted water tests in July 2015 and found disease-causing viruses levels directly linked to human sewage up to 1.7 million times the usual amount. Garbage and even dead animals contributed to this problem, and even worse, the Zika virus has caused some athletes to fear sickness and even entirely skip the games. When you’re losing athletes to sickness and fear, it may be a major sign that these Olympics are in trouble.