The Legacy of the 2016 Rio Olympics
Nearly seven years of planning led to many very trying circumstances for both the city of Rio and the country of Brazil as a whole
On the early morning of Friday, October 2, 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark–Rio de Janeiro narrowly lost by two votes to Madrid, Spain. The eventual 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan and Chicago, Illinois were eliminated in the early rounds. Two more contentious rounds later, Rio emerged as the first Olympics host–winter or summer to contest the Games on the continent of South America.
By the time the London Games of 2012 concluded, Rio faced many growing concerns–the least of which security in general was not the only major issue. With sewage beyond comprehension infiltrating Guanabara Bay along with the Zika virus, scores of athletes either decided that going to Brazil was simply not worth the risk or in some cases, most notably Team USA women’s soccer goaltender Hope Solo pretended to be donning gas masks as if she was fighting a different war before her Instagram account showed her plan of attack in a feeble attempt to not get infected.
Only eleven arenas had to be constructed and seven others in sports ranging from the wildly popular beach volleyball on picturesque Copacabana Beach to rugby and weightlifting were taken down shortly after the flame was extinguished on August 21.
According to an article from Vincent Bevins in the Chicago Tribune dated Sunday, August 28, 2016 he went on to say one of the four Olympic Zones in Barra replaced a shoddy, poor community of Vila Autodromo and converted most of that land into a parking lot. The contract was mired in legal problems, and one of the two corporations that was in charge overseeing the construction was the state-run Petrobras Oil Company.
The initial plans were modeled after what Barcelona did in 1992 when most of those key venues helped turn around that city when tourism reached near some lows during the 1980’s. By contrast, Rio has always been a very popular vacation spot for tourists and beach lovers alike.
With the 10,000 tree initiative to help expand their already huge “green” footprint, more trees will help more people find shade and hopefully, make the air there cleaner for all people.
The Metro Line 4 train will benefit many rich people that line the Ipanema Beach area with the more upscale neighborhood in Barra da Tijuca. By the end of 2017, according to city officials–a new subway line will be in use along with over 62 miles of newer highways and 105 miles of newer fleets of bus lines traveling on their own dedicated rapid bus lanes. The port is resembling most of the venues that were used during the Athens Games of 2004, which is currently in a sorry and decrepit state. The Olympic Village, which ran into problems with some of the rooms not having the air conditioning work properly has turned into a luxury apartment complex.
While a good majority of the venues will still be in use for future competitions and local sporting activity, in the opinion of this blog reporter–where will the true benefits come as far as trying to get the parts of Rio that did not see too many cameras spin by during those 17 days in August? Basic electricity and sanitation, which nearly all people the world over these days take for granted is still in very dire need in many of the downtrodden areas.
Take also the impeachment of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Never before in Olympics history had the host nation remove their country’s President from office just weeks before hosting the Games.
In addition, I get the feeling that the lower and middle class people felt all along like they were being squeezed out. Sound familiar?
It may take several decades before the waterways are finally up to standard and hopefully, the lessons learned from Rio 2016 will be ones that future schoolchildren should look back with true national pride.
Many fears that plagued the city for years thankfully did not surface, namely with the complex issues affecting crime. The venues played without a hitch and everyone appeared to have a great time and enjoying the competitions. The restaurants and bars reported to have set records for people being served and money gained for their establishments.
When the history books call on Rio 2016, my guess is that it will fall between Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 in the overall picture–several slots behind my top overall choice in terms of preparation and execution, Los Angeles in 1984.
Athens had major security problems, but somehow the will of the Greek people pulled through when things mattered most. With Beijing, their smog issue turned many people the wrong way and it may not be solved in time for them to host the Winter Games in 2022.
In the end, NBC enjoyed record ratings and many records were set. Even with the bizarre story involving once popular swimmer Ryan Lochte and three of his swimming teammates doing some crazy things inside and outside of a Rio gas station, it was a total and collaborative effort from all levels–security, volunteers, staff, and others too numerous to mention in this blog space that really stepped up and made the Games of the XXXI Olympiad a mostly pleasant experience.
And that is probably the best way to summarize a rather strange year that was 2016.
My hope for 2017 is that everyone which enjoys reads my blog bring you tons of joyous times and many successful moments, both large and small. Once in a while, try to squeeze in a “me moment”–I am sure my favorite MPB’s know exactly what I am talking about. And I will continue to deliver great reviews of albums every week, mostly in physical CD form and occasionally with albums that are also available via downloads on streaming media platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.
And I also hope to see more fans become interested in joining the blog, so please tell your friends and spread the word whether via texting or face-to-face conversations.
Saudações de uma e de todas as
Season’s Greetings To One And All