■ The fear of Zika virus saga ■ Water pollution ■ Poor state of facilities ■ Security concerns
finally, the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is here, but not without several challenges that have bedeviled Brazil’s preparations ahead of the quadrennial fiesta.
The biggest of these challenges is with the Zika virus that forced many frontline athletes to pull out of the Games.
Rio de Janeiro had become South America’s first Olympic host city and there were concerns that the Zika virus will become an epidemic if not properly addressed in Rio in the cause of the Games.
The fear of the Zika viru was such that there was a call for a shift in the commencement of the event. In over 100 years of the modern Olympics, which began in 1896, never had there been so much fear for the Games not holding, but the International Olympic Committee, IOC had gone ahead.
Brazil’s Sports Minister, Leonardo Picciani, had predicted there would be “close to zero” cases of Zika recorded during the Olympic Games, as he mounted a trenchant rearguard action over a host of issues clouding preparations for Rio.
Picciani, who recently became the third person to fill the role since March said he was convinced the Games.
Another issue preoccupying organisers had been delays to the completion of the metro linking Ipanema Bay to the Olympic Park in Barra de Tijuca. The extension was not part of the bid but had come to be seen as crucial in ferrying spectators, volunteers and staff around Rio’s creaking public transport system. As the Brazilian broadcaster, Globo reported that the state government had been temporarily refused £193m in funding to complete the project amid warnings it could not afford to be delayed a single day longer, Picciani said he had been assured that the link would be finished in time.
“It is a project of the state of Rio de Janeiro. They have been assuring us and have been in constant contact with us. They have assured us they will be complete a couple days before the opening ceremony,” Picciani said.
The spectre of doping is also likely to hang over the Games, whether or not Russian track athletes are present.
“We would like all the countries to be in Brazil and for every country to be able to participate. However, this is a decision for the International Olympic Committee and we abide by the rules and decisions the IOC makes,” Picciani said.
Olympic athletes and tourists already in Rio de Janeiro are being told to keep their mouths shut and their heads above water. The results of a 16-month study conducted for the Associated Press released recently found that Rio’s waterways are still full of human sewage with bacteria and viruses that could cause serious illness.
The study showed “consistent and dangerously high levels of viruses from the pollution” that had worried athletes including sailors, rowers and swimmers who will take to the open waters.
Unpaid public servants angry with Olympics spending
The country is in the grip of a severe recession, overlaid by a massive corruption scandal that has engulfed President Dilma Rouseff and is cutting a scythe through business classes.
Discontent was rising, and protesters yesterday called for the President’s removal from office.
Millions of residents including police, teachers and hospital workers received their salaries late or been paid in instalments or not at all and there was simmering resentment over spending $US12 billion on the Olympics.
And many were unhappy that legacy projects like the new subway line and bus corridors will do little to help the vast majority of the city’s poor.
While the international teams will come and go, for most of Rio’s 12 million people, Friday’s opening ceremony will be the end of some long-cherished dreams.
Security concerns for the Games
The Olympic Games are supposed to be a celebration of sports, international good will, and man’s ability to transcend conflict. They are what Gen. Douglas MacArthur called “the fields of friendly strife.”
Yet, since Palestinian terrorists disrupted the 1972 Munich Games, the Olympics also have meant something else. Every country that wins the opportunity to host the games also has a herculean security challenge.
This year is perhaps the most challenging to date. The civilized world is praying for Brazil.
Sadly, others are praying that killers will get through.
As has been said, the protectors have to be right everywhere, all the time, and in every case; the killers need to be “right” only once.
We’re pulling for Rio to be safe and a smashing success.
OLYMPICS FACT FILE… OLYMPICS FACT FILE… OLYMPICS FACT FILE…
By JUDITH NWABIA
as the starting pistol is fired at the Olympic games, here are some facts and figures of the event cum the host city, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Nigeria made her debut in the Olympics in 1952 and her athletes had appeared in every edition of the Summer Olympic Games except for the 1976 Games in Montreal because of the African boycott.
A total of 75 athletes from Nigeria will feature in 10 sports in the 2016 Rio Olympics – Track & Field events, Basketball, Boxing, Canoeing, Football, Rowing, Swimming, Table tennis, Weightlifting and Wrestling.
• The Olympics in Rio marks the first time in Olympic history that a South American country will host the Games.
• Motto of Rio 2016 Olympics is “Viva sua paixao”, which translates into “Live Your Passion” in English.
• Brazilian football legend Pele has composed a special song titled “Esperanca” for Rio 2016 Olympics
• During the Opening ceremony, Greece will lead the parade of athletes, being the seat of the Olympics. Each competing nation will follow in an alphabetical order
• The Olympic flame was lit at the temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece, the Games’ birthplace, on 21 April 2016, the traditional start of the Greek phase of the torch relay.
• On 27 April the flame was handed over to the Brazilian organizers at a ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.
• The torch relay began its Brazilian journey on 3 May at the capital Brasília.
The mascot for 2016 is “Vinicius,” a yellow and blue creature representing Brazilian wildlife.
Rio’s Maracana Stadium, which has its current capacity around 78,000 but squeezed in at least 173,000 fans in the 1950 World Cup final, is the billed venue for the opening and closing ceremonies, having the pride of a world record for the most fans ever to attend a soccer game.
A total of 11,239 athletes from 206 nations are to participate in 17 days of the Olympiad.
Around 85,000 soldiers and policemen will be deployed — the largest security force assembled at any event in Brazil’s history and twice as large as the security presence for London 2012.
Also in attendance will be 315 horses – more than enough horses to fill a Grand National field seven times over.
Rugby Sevens makes its debut at the Rio Games, with both the U.S. women’s and men’s teams considered to be medal contenders. The seven-a-side variant of rugby lasts only 15 minutes per game. The U.S. is a defending rugby champion, of sorts, having won the gold medal in the 15-person version of the game the last time it featured at the Olympics — in 1924.
• There are 7.5 million tickets, with prices ranging from $40 for some swimming events to almost $3,000 for the best seats at the opening ceremony.
• The city of Rio is nicknamed ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’ in Portuguese, which means ‘Marvellous City’.
• Rio hotel room prices have jumped from an average of £67 to £196 a night, with only 14% of official hotel rooms left available.
• The competition will take place in four different areas: Copacabana, whose world-famous beach will host beach volleyball; Barra, home to the Olympic Park; Deodoro, for aquatics, BMX, and equestrian centers; and Maracanã, which features two large stadiums.
• Golf will return to the Olympics after a 112-year absence. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to reinstate the sport, which previously was played in the 1900 and 1904 Games.
• The 18 holes in Rio were designed by American golf-course architect Gil Hanse, who is based in Malvern, Pennsylvania.
• The Rio games will be the first to feature Olympians born in the year 2000. Rules state that all competitors must have been born before Jan. 1, 2003, but many sports have other age requirements for health and safety reasons. The youngest competitors are likely to be from diving and gymnastics.
• A team of athletes who have been forced to flee their countries will be allowed to compete for the first time. The IOC says five to 10 refugees are expected to qualify and compete under the Olympic flag.
• The International Olympic Committee expects approximately 3.6 billion global viewers of this year’s Games, of whom more than three billion will be using additional ‘second-screen’ devices while watching the Games – that’s the entire population of China, India and United States combined.
Team Nigeria’s medal hopefuls
By PAUL EREWUBA
Source : SunOnline