Recession, Budget Cuts, and Corruption Push Rio 2016 Olympics Into Crisis

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The Rio 2016 Olympic Games have been described as “a model of austerity in contrast to London 2012 and the lavish Beijing Olympics” by France 24. A telling article by Ana Campoy of Quartz highlights some of the many reasons behind the increasingly dreary and downtrodden images and ideas that accompany the latest edition of the world’s leading sporting event.

Campoy explains that when Rio first won the right to host the Olympics in October of 2009, Brazil was a “rising economic star” with a swiftly expanding export sector and swelling middle class. Fast forward to 2016, and the South American nation finds itself smack in the middle of what is arguably its worst recession since the 1930s, with a sagging economy set to contract by 3 percent this year, decreasing exports and ballooning deficits, all amidst a corruption scandal involving a major oil company.

Take a look for yourself. The graphs don’t lie:

How do these doom and gloom numbers translate to the Olympics? Well, a 5 to 20 percent budget reduction – including slashing at least $500 million in expenses in an effort to balance out a $1.8 billion operating budget – will be accompanied by a plethora of other noticeable cutbacks, including but not limited to volunteer numbers, seating, athlete accommodations – you name it.

Brazilians themselves seem downbeat and despondent; only half of the 4.4 million tickets allocated to them have been sold up to this point. Who can really blame them? Remember the report from Rio’s city government that revealed the resettlement of over 22,000 families since 2009? According to the report, the displacement occurred as a result of homes being labeled as “at risk,” and/or (the more likely culprit) to facilitate transportation and infrastructural projects ahead of the Games – i.e., forced evictions and gentrification. Not to mention the potential explosion of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has already infected 1.5 million and may or may not have arrived in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup.

For more graphic data on why Rio 2016 will not be the sporting competition that Brazil originally envisioned, check out Campoy’s article for yourself here, and perhaps consider boycotting in whatever way you see fit.