Rio Olympics seems an afterthought for Brazil as Tourism Minister resigns

Published on : Friday, June 17, 2016

Rio OlympicsBrazil is in the midst of strong political instability as the country is also trying to cope up with the impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff and now in the wake of the Olympic games with not even two months to go Brazil’s Tourism Minister Henrique Alves,  put his paper’s down due to a sweeping controversy in his involvement in a corruption scandal linking him to the state’s oil company Petrobras.




“I don’t want to create embarrassment or any difficulties for the government,” he said in a letter to Temer provided to journalists on Thursday, explaining that he had resigned to focus on defending himself from the accusations. Olympic Games, it seems  are the last thing on everybody’s mind right now feels Sergio Praca, a political scientist at the respected Getulio Vargas foundation.




The preparations for the Olympics are already being questioned as FIFA has expressed its concern over the stadiums in Brasília and Manaus which have hardly been used since the 2014 World Cup. The Manaus, fields has not fully recovered from a caterpillar infestation last December. Brasilia arena, meanwhile, has been subjected to heavy criticism for holes in the field. Apart from field preparations there are concerns about hotels as all teams have been provided with same kitchen and this may provoke disagreement between teams on sharing kitchens. The budget for security has been substantially cut in an attempt to lower expenses. Just not limited to football, the International Swimming Federation and the International Federation for Equestrian Sports have also complained about competition conditions.





Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) economist Ken McGill says: “Most of the travel surrounding the Rio Olympics would be classified as leisure, not business. While there will certainly be some corporate travel associated with sections, such as print and broadcast media, security and hospitality, the bulk of Rio’s visitors will be leisure travellers and sports fans.”



“Hotel rates are likely to be 3-5 times above normal average daily rates [ADRs] for this time of year,” he says. “Rio, and indeed Brazil generally, lacks adequate room supply for normal travel levels. Taxed capacity during the Games will put hotel prices way up, particularly among mid-level and luxury properties. Furthermore, rental cars will be largely unavailable, traffic will be snarled up and public transport will be packed.”




Zika virus outbreak and infrastructural problems in the Olympic host city of Rio have already raised   questions about safety, security despite preparations since 2009. Brazil’s currency and equity markets closed up on Thursday after trading down for much of the day on investor concerns that the U.K. would leave the European Union.




Last week, the Associated Press ran an extensive report in which Brazilian politicians and observers noted the Olympics were being treated as an afterthought by the government as it struggled to remain in power. “I have never experienced such political turmoil in my whole life,” Mario Andrada, a member of the Olympics organizing committee, told AP. “If this was five years ago, we could have even lost the games.”




Reuters reports that the first casualty of the ongoing scandals – which all revolve around fiscal misconduct by politicians using state funds – may be the Olympic Deodoro complex, scheduled to be the home of Olympic Rugby Sevens, BMX biking, and kayaking. The outlet claims a federal court has ordered funding for the complex frozen following allegations of embezzlement related to the venue. Officials have yet to confirm the report, which, if true, would mean up to $35 million in Olympic assets would not reach the organizing committee.





Apart from these slips, visitors to Rio will pass sewage-filled harbor on the way from the airport and the spot where Olympic sailing events will be staged. The new metro line which started operations just four days before the opening ceremony will at best run on a limited schedule. Police state-of-the-art security for travellers has also fallen apart. President Dilma Rousseff is yet to disclose on who will succeed Tourism Minister Henrique Alves.





Leonardo Espindola, chief of staff to Rio’s governor, told the Supreme Court in April that the state is on the verge of “social collapse.” State Finance Secretary Julio Bueno agrees. At the outset of an hour-long interview last month, Bueno claimed to have “the worst job in Rio de Janeiro.” “We’re unable to maintain essential services like police and health,” he said. “That’s what defines the health of a society.”

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