The Brazil 2016 Olympics are just around the corner and there is a mounting number of controversies surrounding the international event, just like there almost every time the Olympics are held.
One of the main concerns that unfortunately link many Olympic years is how the event is no longer a celebration of athleticism, sportsmanship and international collaboration but instead is used by ignorant and corrupt governments as a token of oppression.
Rio de Janeiro is not a healthy city at the moment. President Dilma Rousseff is in the middle of an impeachment process for allegedly using illegal accounting tricks to hide deficits in the federal budget, the health system is facing major strains, crime is high and sanitation will be a problem
According to Christopher Gaffney, senior researcher in the department of geography at the University of Zürich, the city’s public health budget was reduced by 30 per cent this year. Emergency care facilities are operating but lack basic supplies, as they are being withheld to save money for the demands of the Olympics. The city is willing allowing its people to suffer just to be able to hold the prestigious games.
There’s also the matter of the Zika virus. It is irresponsible to allow hundreds of thousands of people into an area struggling with an epidemic, increasing the likelihood of further spreading the virus around the world. Plus anyone seeking treatment in the city will be hard-pressed to find adequate service due to the constructed shortages of supplies at medical centres.
Theresa Williamson, a city planner, is the executive director of Catalytic Communities, a Rio de Janeiro-based organization that provides media and networking support to favela communities, and the editor of RioOnWatch, stated 77,000 people have been evicted from their homes in the name of the Olympics.
There’s no denying the city is steeped in culture but in order to put only a good face forward to show the world those living in favelas are being pushed out of the public eye and treated as something to be ashamed of by the very government that is supposed to be representing them.
This hypocrisy and oppression will undoubtedly lead to protests that will probably incite violence and cast a glaring spotlight on the troubles of the county. This will prolong economic recovery as tourism is large, beneficial sector of the city’s economy.
Rio de Janeiro is not the first time the Olympics has been called out for leading to the mistreatment of residents of the host county as well as other peoples.
In Sochi 2014 Russia and President Vladimir Putin came under fire for banning the promotion of non-traditional relationships in their words for the safety and well-being of the children. Visitors were cautioned to watch how they behaved during the event because the crime of promotion carried fines.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was hosting a number of Canadian national events in 2010, the year of the Vancouver Olympics. Still today many people are calling for a halt on First Nations exploitation for Olympic events. The games were held on First Nation lands and a legacy fund of $3 billion was promised to the First Nations snowboard team, a youth-based program. The fund was then reduced and eventually cut and six years later the team still has no access to the money, states Janice Forsyth, an assistant professor and former director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University, Ont.
The Olympics carry such weight in the world of politics the event itself was used in the past as a factor in punishment were invitations were sometimes withheld as a way for a collective to manipulate the actions of others.
In 1920, Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary and Turkey — the losers of the First World War — were not invited to compete. In 1948 Japan and Germany were not invited to compete and in 1964 South Africa was banned from competing because of the Apartheid.
Even the athletes the Olympics are meant to celebrate have been the victims of oppression as governments around the world continue to wage wars of pride and power in the name of justice.
Amelia Naismith is the new reporter for The Pipestone Flyer. She writes a regular column for the paper.