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Top 10 Rio 2016 Olympics Facts

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Sean Harris As the world watched ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics, multiple concerns and controversies took the stage. Welcome to WatchMojo News, the weekly series from where we break down news stories that might be on your radar. In this instalment, we're counting down 10 crucial facts you should know about the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

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Script written by Sean Harris

Top 10 Rio 2016 Olympics Facts

As the world watched ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics, multiple concerns and controversies took the stage. Welcome to WatchMojo News, the weekly series from where we break down news stories that might be on your radar. In this instalment, we’re counting down 10 crucial facts you should know about the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

#10: What Is the Current State of the 2016 Summer Olympics?
The Event

The Olympic Games is one of the most anticipated events on the sporting calendar, and in 2016, it is scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro, with the opening ceremony set for August 5th, 2016. However, as host city, Rio is carrying a massive weight of expectation, and tournament organizers have been under constant scrutiny. With just weeks to go until the opening ceremony, the outbreak of the Zika Virus, Brazil’s troubled economy, health and hygiene problems and mounting social unrest in the country are all ongoing concerns.

#9: How Will the Zika Virus Affect the Olympics?
The Infection

Doctors are warning that the Games could spark a ‘full-blown public health disaster’, thanks to the Zika Virus, which was first recognized in Brazil in May 2015. The virus, which causes a dengue fever-like infection and has also been linked to microcephaly, a condition that sees babies born with improperly developed brains and dangerously small heads, has reached pandemic levels in parts of Central and South America. As a mosquito-borne and sexually transmitted condition, experts are concerned that the Olympics will fast-track Zika’s international spread. According to Canadian biologist Amir Attaran, with about half a million foreign tourists expected in Brazil in the summer of 2016, the Games should be moved to another, less-infected city at least – if not postponed entirely.

#8: Who Is Leading the Country?
The Impeachment

Brazil’s political climate is increasingly tense, as President Dilma Rousseff has been suspended for allegedly doctoring government accounts. Brazil’s senate voted on May 12th,2016 to hold an impeachment trial against Rousseff. Vice President Michel Temer has stepped into Rousseff’s role in the meantime, although there have been question marks over his spending in the past as well. Rousseff has since labeled the situation as ‘sabotage’ and ‘an open conspiracy’, suggesting that she has been ousted to make way for an all-male government. Whatever the outcome of the trial, however, it seems unlikely that Rousseff will have any further involvement with the Olympics.

#7: How Is Brazil’s Economy?
The Crisis

In 2014, Brazil had built the seventh-largest economy on the planet, and was tipped to become the next big international market. However, since then the nation’s finances have fallen spectacularly, and investors have all-but lost faith in the country. Incoming president Temer has already identified the problem as his most pressing matter. “Brazil lives today in the worst economic crisis of our history,” he said. “It is imperative that we rebuild the fundamentals of Brazilian economy.” However, with the Olympics looming large, the country will still be mired in uncertainty when Rio hosts the Games, which have come to be viewed by some Brazilians as a symbol of government overspending.

#6: What Is the Petrobras Investigation?
The Corruption

An ongoing corruption investigation centered on the state-run oil firm Petrobras is another issue overshadowing the Games. As part of the inquiry, which was opened in 2014, allegations have also been made of fraud, price-fixing and bribery relating to construction contracts for Olympic venues. Dilma Rousseff was on the board of directors at Petrobras from 2003 to 2010, though she has consistently denied any knowledge of the company’s illegal workings. The probe planned to scrutinize contracts for the Olympics in November 2015, when Brazilian police investigated the legitimacy of more than $10 billion linked to the building of venues.

#5: Are the Venues Ready for the Olympics?
The Delays

Regardless of whether the stadiums were developed legally or not, time pressures have constantly dogged Rio’s Olympic build. In February 2016, construction workers protested against the Olympic Committee over pay, and warned organizers that venues were in danger of being unfinished when the Games rolled into town. However, although many a deadline has been missed, Brazil is confident that Rio will be ready for opening night, and claims that competition venues are finished. The country has garnered a reputation for doing things at the last minute – 2014’s World Cup was similar – but officials are hoping that the builders will move out just in time for the athletes to move in!

#4: How Do the Brazilian People Feel About Hosting the Olympics?
The Protests

Thanks to Brazil’s problems, the country is currently experiencing severe social unrest. In a series of demonstrations, people have taken to the streets to rally against the government and protest the economic crisis. Most commentators highlight how the Olympics have almost been forgotten, such is the anger among Brazilian people right now. Often, the Games serve as an event to unify a nation, to celebrate it, and to bolster its international image – but so far that’s not the case in Rio. In fact, the Olympics have cometo represent everything that the people are angry about. They’ve so far proven badly organized and expensive, and they’ve drawn international attention to Brazil when perhaps the nation would prefer the rest of the world to be focusing elsewhere.

#3: Will Countries Be Excluded from the Olympics?
The Anti-Doping

The 2016 Summer Olympics faces more than just a myriad of external issues, however. There’s mounting pressure within the sporting world itself, as authorities attempt to install stricter anti-doping laws. Russia is not the only country currently being investigated for drugs cheats, but it is the most high profile. The All-Russia Athletics Federation was suspended from competition in November 2015, following allegations that the country employs sophisticated and systematic doping methods. Nations including Ukraine, Belarus, Ethiopia, Morocco and Kenya are also threatened with a ban, as the World Anti-Doping Agency tries to make the Games as fair as possible. It remains to be seen if countries will be excluded thanks to doping, but in Russia’s case the suspension must be lifted before they can be represented in Rio.

#2: Will the Olympics Be Widely Attended?
The Tickets

According to reports, ticket sales have not met expectation[s] and organizers are worried that the sporting spectacle could see thousands of empty seats. According to Fortune, only half of the tickets had been sold by April 2016. The city is said to be scrambling to sell more, but efforts are hindered by a lack of local interest in the games, and international concerns over the Zika Virus. The Brazilian press has reported that tickets may even be given away, to at least give the impression that venues are full. Brazil’s minister of sports, Ricardo Leyser, hasn’t given up hope though. “There is a perception that the Brazilian population has not yet woken up for the Games […] We need to sound an alert so that people remember this event and go and buy tickets,” he said.

#1: Will Rio Be Able to Host the Olympic Games?
The Unknown

The odds seem massively stacked against Rio. What might’ve been inspiring and enjoyable Games could become a nightmare for the city, and the nation. The event simply hasn’t captured the imagination of local residents, and it can’t shake off health and safety concerns. However, if Leyser can generate excitement, then the city could yet stage a successful event. Rio is well known for its party atmosphere, and the World Cup wasn’t the all-out disaster that some had predicted it would be – perhaps the Olympics can follow suit. The political and economic turmoil won’t disappear, but organizers will be hoping to prove that although the Games come at the wrong time, they’re still being held at the right place!

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