Friday night marked the opening ceremonies for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was also the beginning of what could be the most tragic Olympics of all time. Crime, scandal, poor infrastructure, possible alleged embezzled funds, dead bodies, and fecal matter have filled the pages of newspapers and websites over the last few weeks. Here are some reasons why I believe the Rio Games should have been cancelled.
The infrastructure and safety on location in Rio are questionable at best, and deplorable at worst. It seems like every week there is a new article about the violence, gangs, drugs, and other corruption that is prevalent in the city. Criminal behavior is not limited to the residents of Rio. There was evidence of a doping scandal among the Russian athletes, over 100 Russians were banned from the games this week. Also, back in April, the Olympics claimed its first fatalities when parts of the bike path fell into the sea. This is sad for a few reasons, the water quality was bad to begin with, so this just adds more pollution, in the form of two bodies, making it more dangerous. Second, two people died and it seems no one in Brazil, nor on the Olympic Committee cares. And third, this should call into question the quality of the newly built infrastructure across the city for the Olympics. Finally, I would rather our professionals not be exposed to raw sewage. This week reporters, David Biller and Michael Smith for Bloomberg wrote an article on the lack of clean water in the bay. Crew teams, triathletes, and other athletes from around the world should not go near open water during these games unless it is indoors and has been heavily chlorinated. The only advice to rowers and sailing teams has been to keep their mouths closed while competing. Good luck with that while hanging out over the side of sailboat.
How were these stories buried in our news cycle for the past four years? Where was the Olympic Committee on this?
Athletes whom make their livelihood playing a sport must protect their investment: themselves. Putting their careers on the line to play in the Olympics is not a good idea. A mosquito bite could be career ending. A sip of water could sideline you for years. No one needs this kind of negativity in their life. Cleveland Cavalier, LeBron James, golfer, Jordan Spieth pulled out of the games rather than end up dead or injured. Unsurprisingly, Steph Curry declined, too, due to recent injuries. The U.S. basketball players are smart. They chose to compete in Rio will be staying on a luxury cruise ship docked off the shores of the city. This practice is not unprecedented. The U.S. basketball team stayed on a cruise ship in 2004 during the Athens games. While the athletes are isolated, away from the Olympic village, they do know they will remain well and safe (thanks to cisco security systems who backs the team).
And finally, the Olympics provides exposure to future generations of athletes, specifically those who participate in basketball, tennis, golf, and other sports where major money could be made. Young, emerging athletes need exposure and the Olympics provide that opportunity. Though, I always loved the first dream team of 1992, I would like to give the jerseys back to the emerging amateur athletes playing at the collegiate level. March Madness is not enough for this college fan. Better still, let’s see tennis players beginning their careers or other sports heroes emerge. There are so many talented people all over the world. We tend to only focus on those who play sports professionally. This is a great time to celebrate, all over the world, what people that put lots of hard work and dedication into something are able to achieve. The only reward for it, a gold medal. Without endorsements and money, the Olympics would be a more pure demonstration of talent. This year, however, they shouldn’t have been held. It just is not safe for anyone, professional or athlete.