OPINION: IOC Should Cancel Summer Olympics in Rio
The time has come to call it quits.
Less than five weeks ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, many are wondering if the event will ever actually take place.
Stories continue to swirl around the negativity surrounding the 2016 host site on social media platforms, print newspapers and digital entities alike.
Whether it is concerns over the possible contraction of the Zika virus, questions about the city’s ability to protect athletes and fans, or the lack of medical attention available to visitors, it is clear that Rio is ill-prepared to host the biggest sporting event on earth.
All these stories lead to one conclusion: attending the Games in Rio is a dangerous endeavor.
The best course of action: cancel the Olympics in Rio, before any other lives are put at risk.
On Tuesday, golf’s No. 1 player in the world, Australian Jason Day, added his name to a lengthy list of athletes who will not be participating in the Rio Games.
The sport now has eight players, including Day and the world’s fourth-ranked player, Rory McIlroy, whom have chosen to withdraw their names from competition on account of concerns regarding the spread of the Zika virus, a relative of Dengue Fever and the West Nile virus, that has reached pandemic proportions in 2016.
What is most telling about the decisions made by these golfers to exclude themselves from competition is the fact that the Rio Games were supposed to signal a return to prominence for the sport of golf on the world stage.
Golf has not been part of Olympic Competition in 112 years, but the fact remains, Day, Northern Ireland’s McIlroy, South Africans Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace, Irishman Shane Lowery, Fiji native Vijay Singh and Aussies Adam Scott and Marc Leishman have all pulled out despite their chance to return golf to glory.
But golf is far from the only sport that has been affected by the Zika scare.
A SUCCINCT EXPLANATION OF THE ZIKA VIRUS
U.S. cyclist Tejay van Garderen, considered one of the world’s best in the sport, announced he will not be attending the games due to Zika concerns.
“Although the risks associated with the Zika virus can be minimal and precautions can be taken, my wife Jessica is pregnant, and I don’t want to risk bringing anything back that could potentially have an effect,” van Garderen said in a statement.
Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry offered a veiled Zika excuse when he announced that he would not be playing for Team USA in Rio due to “other factors.”
British long jumper Greg Rutherford has frozen some of his sperm in the event that he is stricken with the mosquito-borne illness and his girlfriend, Susie Verrill, wrote an op-ed for England’s Standard Issue Magazine explaining why she will not be attending the Games to cheer her partner on.
“The Zika news has caused no end of concern if we’re totally honest,” Verrill wrote in Standard Issue. “We’re not ones to worry unnecessarily, but after more than 100 medical experts stressed the Games should be moved to prevent the disease from spreading, this was a huge factor in us choosing to stay put.”
There is no known vaccine for Zika and what’s maybe most troubling is that the disease is often asymptonmatic.
So, not only would an athlete, or fan, be risking exposure, there’s a high probability they would not know when they had been exposed or contracted the disease and therefore would be vulnerable to spreading it further.
Health and Safety
Zika is not the only health scare athletes and visitors would have to contend with in Rio.
Signs have been strewn along overpasses at Rio de Janeiro International Airport that read, “Welcome, we have no hospitals.”
Images of protest have poured out of Brazil’s capital city in the wake of a gun battle that ensued at a hospital in Rio Sunday, when 20 gunmen stormed Hospital Souza Aguiar in order to free a drug kingpin.
Souza Aguiar is the same hospital that Brazilian officials suggested tourists make use of when visiting Rio to attend the Games.
After one patient and an off-duty officer were wounded in the attack, that ended up freeing the drug trafficker, policemen and other first responders staged a protest at the airport on Monday.
The first responders held a sign that read, “Welcome to Hell. Police and Firefighters don’t get paid, whoever comes to Rio de Janeiro will not be safe.”
‘Welcome to Hell’: Rio police protest financial disaster ahead of Olympics https://t.co/994V8GFZDs
— Joseph O. Iannacone (@JosephIannacone) June 29, 2016
One officer, identifying himself only as Andre, told Agence France-Presse that the work conditions for first responders are beyond deplorable.
The simple, common items associated with day-to-day operations, or just human hygiene, are not available.
“At the stations we don’t have paper or ink for the printers, there’s no one to come in to clean,” Andre told AFP. “Some stations don’t have a water supply anymore so the toilets are not functioning. Members of the public bring toilet paper for us.”
If the city cannot muster the means to provide toilet paper to those protecting the public good, how can we expect them to keep athletes, fans and tourists safe?
The water is dangerous, the police can’t protect you and a mosquito bite could result in dire medical consequences.
Rio is better suited as the setting for the next Hunger Games than it would be a site for the globe’s oldest and largest sporting event.
The International Olympic Committee has an obligation to protect its athletes and patrons.
Cancel the Olympics in Rio now, before further calamity ensues.