Will Brazil Be Ready?

thejourney 1972 (South America “addicted”-AWAY), Flickr/cc license

If you follow the Olympic games you can agree that they are a grand spectacle in the world of sports and a showcase for the best athletes of each participating country.  Aside from the sporting events, however, I find it fascinating how each host country prepares itself for this event that becomes a worldwide showcase. For not only are the athletes judged and analyzed by the world’s sporting enthusiasts but also the country itself, from the venues it has built to its people, customs, food everything that defines the character of the host city and country.

Recently, we have seen the spectacular Olympic buildings and precision of the people during the opening and closing events in Beijing. And then in London, the world was witness to the impressive architectural designs and smoothness of rhythm during the entire Olympic events.  All these host cities transform themselves into beautiful and welcoming Olympic Villages and sites for the world to come and enjoy their hospitality. And even though the spend billions in doing so, they do get a return on their investment from tourism and world awareness.

Now for 2016 we have Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as the next host for these summer games although technically it will be winter in Rio.  This will be the first time that the Summer Olympics will be held in South America. Rio and Brazil uniquely know for its happy and party atmosphere during the Carnival festivities, is a country that has the world’s seventh wealthiest economy with one of the most promising emerging economies in the world.  But is it ready for such a gargantuan undertaking that could be physically and financially overwhelming.

The Brazilian government in conjunction with private enterprises has spent an estimated $25.9 billion in preparing for these summer games, an unprecedented amount in the world of sports. A majority of the venues have already been completed and they are addressing the task of adding more hotels rooms, restaurants and building roads and highways for ease of traffic flow from one event to another.

How “green” will these Olympics be? To start, the theme for the 2016 games is “Green Games for a Blue Planet”. A percentage of Brazil’s energy system, about 45%, is already generated from renewable sources. Admittedly, Rio has a major traffic problem and they are addressing it by improving their public transportation system and introducing vehicles that run on 100% clean biodiesel ethanol, and extending their subway system to include the Olympic Village. An artificial waterfall is being designed to generate solar power for the Olympic Village and the city itself. Plans are in motion to generate cleaner power, have a sustainable water management system and waste reduction. Brazilians know that they have to change their wasteful, polluting ways as the world watches and they are committed in doing so.

But one of the major problems that Rio has had to cope with is crime from gangs that deal in drugs, extortion, money laundering and prostitution that infest the slums of Rio. The Rio police and Brazilian army have taken major steps in riding the city from this scourge with moderate success. They have executed raids of these shantytowns that dot the hills overlooking Rio with success in clearing the criminals that inhabit these “fevales”. But they still have a lot more work to do to guarantee the safety of the thousands of visitors that will attend the games in 2016 and the World Cup that will be held there in 2014.

The Brazilian government and people have a lot do these coming years to make these Olympic games and World Cup competition a favorable lasting and memorable experience by all. Lets hope they do.

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