Brazil: Wishing Perhaps that the Olympics Weren’t in their Country

Torben Grael
Torben Grael (right), Brazil’s most decorated Olympian, is frustrated over the lost opportunity to clean up Guanabara Bay.

The Rio Olympics are under attack.

Not only is the world concerned about the removal of Brazil’s sitting President, the Petrobras scandal, the state of its weakened economy, and the threat of the deadly zika virus, prominent Brazilian athletes are also expressing increasingly powerful criticism and concern.

In this past week, Brazil’s most decorated Olympian, Torben Grael, as well as popular and former professional footballer, Rivaldo, spoke out very critically regarding the environment and security respectively.

In regards to the terribly polluted state of Guanabara Bay, Grael said in a recent interview that the organizers missed a huge chance to clean up the waters where sailing events will be held. Said the five-time medalist over five Olympiads:

We always hoped that having a big event like the Games would help. We ourselves put a lot of pressure to make it happen, but unfortunately it didn’t happen when they had money. And now they don’t have money, and so it’s even worse.

After the death of a 17-year old girl in Rio de Janeiro, Rivaldo wrote in frustration at the state of safety, health and politics in Rio, stating the following below a picture of the woman who was killed:

“Things are getting uglier here every day,” Rivaldo wrote. “I advise everyone with plans to visit Brazil for the Olympics in Rio — to stay home. You’ll be putting your life at risk here. This is without even speaking about the state of public hospitals and all the Brazilian political mess. Only God can change the situation in our Brazil.”

Rivaldo Instagram image
Rivaldo’s Instagram message from May 14.

On top of that, Dr Amir Attaran, a University of Ottawa professor recently wrote in the Harvard Public Health Review that the Rio Olympics should be postponed for health safety reasons.

Simply put, Zika infection is more dangerous, and Brazil’s outbreak more extensive, than scientists reckoned a short time ago.  Which leads to a bitter truth: the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games must be postponed, moved, or both, as a precautionary concession.

Where is that light at the end of this tunnel?