The 2016 Rio Olympic games are just over a month away and concerns about traveling to Brazil have hit an all-time high. A public health emergency, a potential government meltdown and the country’s worst recession in over two decades have made many athletes and spectators uneasy about heading to Rio. In one of the country’s most important times, everything seems to be going wrong.
1. Zika Virus
The fear of the Zika virus has become serious enough to cause some athletes to pull out of the games and some countries to go as far as changing their uniforms to protect their athletes. Although over 100 prominent doctors put together an open letter that urged the games to be moved, it appears the show will go on. Not since the 2003 Women’s World Cup has an event been moved due to health concerns, when the World Cup was moved out of China because of swine flu concerns.
Moving the games will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika Virus, according to the World Health Organizations (WHO). People will continue to travel between Brazil and other countries regardless of whether the games are moved. Following public health travel advice is the the best way to reduce the risk of Zika. Although they see no reason to move the games, WHO has taken extra precautionary measures in planning for Zika.
2. Government Turmoil
When Rio was awarded the games in 2009, no one could have predicted the state of turmoil the country would be in when 2016 rolled around. After Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was forced to step aside while her trial begins for breaking budget laws, Vice President Michael Temer has stepped in for 180 days. The absence of the country’s first female President creates quite a challenge to keep the peace with tourists coming in from all over the world.
The Olympics are always a target for attacks given the large venue of people it attracts, but experts fear Brazil may be even more at risk. Brazil borders 10 other countries offering ten different entry points. With the hundreds of thousands of people traveling to the event, there will need to be heightened security at each entry point to monitor who comes in and out of Rio.
4. Water Supply
The water in Rio de Janeiro has been one of the hottest topics given that the Olympics are, after all, an athletic event. A problem arose in Rio’s sewage system causing the water to become extremely contaminated. The water has certainly improved in Rio after extra measures were taken, but at one point, experts referred to Rio’s water as “raw sewage”.
5. Economic Crisis
Earlier this month, the state governor of Rio de Janeiro issued an executive order with the intention of authorizing additional funds during the Olympic games. With all the civil unrest, the state has had a hard time honoring their original financial commitment for the games. Limited funding could present major difficulties in areas directly affecting the Olympics, like security, health, education and more.
Should You be Worried to Travel to the Rio Olympics?
It’s not uncommon for the host country to be facing some major hardships with the Olympic Games scheduled for that same year. In 2002, Salt Lake City, Utah hosted the winter Olympics five months after the September 11 attacks and Turin, Italy almost declared bankrupty before the games even started in 2006
With just over 30 days from the Olympic games, Brazil has ramped up their security measures and the World Health Organization has been taking extra steps to educate the public on Zika. In the midst of all the controversy, the International Olympic Committee insists Brazil is ready.
The summer Olympics are scheduled to officially kick-off Friday, August 5th and run through Sunday, August 21st. With all the tourists that will be flooding Brazil this summer in uncertain times, the most important thing to do is educate yourself before traveling and take the suggested precautionary measures.
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