Olympic Woes: With a Month to Go, Rio is Plagued with Crime, Bacteria and Violence

With the Olympic Games less than a month away, athletes and spectators headed to Rio de Janiero are concerned by the growing number of problems

Photo: Kyodo/AP

With the Olympic Games less than a month away, athletes and spectators headed to Rio de Janiero are concerned by the growing number of problems cropping up in the city.

Most recently, a group of Brazilian scientists discovered a drug-resistant “super bacteria” growing off of the city’s beautiful beaches. Researchers believe the bacteria, found in Guanabara Bay, entered waterways from surrounding households and hospitals. “Every time you get some water in your face, it feels like there’s alien enemy entering your face. I keep my nose and my lips closed,” German Paralympic sailor Heiko Kroger told CNN.

This comes only days after human body parts, including a foot and other remains, washed ashore near the site of the Olympic volleyball tournaments.

Not to mention Brazil’s replacement of its top antidoping official after the Rio testing facility was suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency and reports that Rio’s Olympic metro line runs 2,000-percent over budget.

“I hate to use this phrase again, but it’s like another perfect storm,” Rio organizing committee spokesperson Mario Andrada told the Wall Street Journal.

With only 31 days until the opening ceremony of the 2016 Games, here is a look at some of Rio’s biggest issues.


The mosquito-borne virus, which is linked to birth defects like microcephaly, has caused multiple athletes and sports commentators to reconsider attending the Olympics. American cyclist Tejay van Garderen dropped out of the Games over concerns about potential effects on his pregnant wife and Chicago Bulls player Pau Gasol cites Zika as the reason he won’t represent his native Spain in Rio. Savannah Guthrie, Today Show co-host who is pregnant with a second child, will not travel to Brazil this summer.

Political turmoil

Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff was suspended from office in May when her government decided to try her on financial fraud charges. Vice President Michel Temer has taken over as she awaits an impeachment trial. Her impeachment would make Temer president. Rousseff, who blames her suspension on a “coup,” says she will fight to regain her position. “You always have to fight. There’s never a day when you’re finally free. At least for me, there never has been so far,” she told the Los Angeles Times.


Rio’s mayor Eduardo Paes said crime is “the most serious issue in Rio and the state is doing a terrible, horrible job,” according to CNN. The city has been plagued by reports of criminal incidents including an Autralian Paralympic athlete who was robbed at gunpoint, spats of armed men breaking into hospitals and two journalists that had $4000,000 worth of technical gear hijacked, reports the news outlet.


In June the state government in Rio declared a “state of public calamity in financial administration,” – only seven weeks ahead of the Olympics. Acting governor Francisco Dornelles said the city’s state of affairs could cause “a total collapse in public security, health, education, transport and environmental management,” according to the Washington Post. The situation is so dire, officials believe it could negatively impact the city’s ability to meet all commitments necessary to host the Games. However, the Rio Olympics’ executive director of communications, Mério Andrada, said the Games will go on as planned. “We knew since last year that the financial state of Rio was critical. We work with them every single day. They have fulfilled all their obligations for the Games. They created a state law for tax breaks that we were able to use,” he said.

Civil Strikes

Thousands of doctors, firefighters and policemen are currently on strike in the city over dismal working conditions and unpaid salaries. Hospital workers are being forced to reduce the amount of patients they admit, police are begging for basic supplies like toilet paper and firefighters walk miles to work because they are unable to afford public transportation, according to The Wall Street Journal. State police officers held signs saying “Welcome to Hell” and “Police and firefighters don’t get paid, whoever comes to Rio de Janeiro will not be safe,” outside of Rio’s main airport recently. Officials announced on Thursday that 310,458 employees and retirees are owed an average of $466 for compensation due on June 14, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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