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WMNews: Rio Olympics Part 2

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Sean Harris With the Games of the XXXI Olympiad under way from August 5 to the 21stof 2016, the eyes of the world are on Rio. 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 another 5 crucial facts you should know about the Rio Olympics 2016.

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Script written by Sean Harris

WMNews: Another Top 5 Rio Olympics Facts

With the Games of the XXXI Olympiad under way from August 5 to the 21stof 2016, the eyes of the world are on Rio. 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 another 5 crucial facts you should know about the Rio Olympics 2016.

#5: What Has Been the Biggest Issue Affecting Rio?
The Zika Virus

Concerns regarding the Zika Virus present in Brazil have taken plenty of headlines in the build-up to the Games. A mosquito-borne virus that is currently untreatable and cannot be vaccinated against, Zika provokes symptoms similar to dengue fever and can cause severe birth defects in children. The threat of the virus has led many high profile athletes to pull out of the Games, and reports suggest international ticket sales have been down. Health experts worldwide had warned against travel to Rio, fearing that the Olympics could spark a global health crisis – Canadian professor, Amir Attaran, even suggested that the Games should be postponed or relocated. However, according to some analysts the threat level doesn’t match the hype. The Guardian reports a study carried out at the Yale School of Public Health that estimates that ‘between just three and 37’ visitors toBrazil would be infected this summer, despite over half a million foreign tourists expected. Even so, evidence of the health problem has been seen during the Games; workers have been spraying mosquito repellents around the athlete’s village and venues, and the team from South Korea turned heads during the Opening Ceremony on August 5th, 2016 with a ‘Zika-proof’ uniform.

#4: How Have Ticket Sales Been?
The Absence

In part because of Zika but also as a result of other problems, reports suggest that ticket sales are disappointing. With hours to go before the beginning of the Games, over one million tickets remained unsold accordingto Reuters, with over 20% of the 6.1 million allocated still available. Ticket sales opened in early 2015 with initial projections that over 7.5 million would be sold; that figure was subsequently lowered but organizers are anxious that the revised target will also be missed. By comparison, Reuters reports that 7 million tickets and over 80% of allocation had been sold a month before the London 2012 Games, and 95% of tickets were snapped up ahead of Beijing in 2008. While an estimated 500,000 of the unsold tickets are for football matches, many of which are staged in cities outside of Rio, an apparent lack of interest has heaped pressure onto Brazilian officials. Since being awarded the Games in 2009, the country has suffered its worst recession in decades. Official figures say Rio 2016 has cost $12 billion tohost; cash which residents say could’ve been better spent. If the Games failto bring in the crowds, then the apparent waste of money could become even clearer.

#3: What Is the Biggest Issue Affecting Athletes?
The Housing

Set in Barra de Tijuca, Rio’s Olympic village is the largest in history, with 3,604 apartments for as many as 18,000 people, including over 10,000 athletes. As well as all the usual amenities there’s a florist, his and hers salons and a fast food restaurant – some athletes have compared their temporary home to a college campus. However, the village has also had its fair share of controversy. In the run-up to the Games, the organizing committee revealed that more than half of the buildings hadn’t passed safety tests. Multiple reports of gas leaks, flooding, mold and even a small fire led to widespread concerns – the Australian team even relocated temporarily. Complaints also began to circulate on social media, under the hashtag #IOCLuxuryLodging, as athletes posted photos of disappointing or unfinished accommodation. While reviews haven’t been all bad, critics have again pointed to Brazil’s financial instability as reason for the problems. A 20% fall in the housing market in the last 12 months has made it difficult for construction company Odebrecht to complete the work.

#2: Are the Pollution Levels High in Rio?
The Water

Floating debris seen across Rio’s waterways is evidence of the water pollution problem that the city still has. When it was awarded the Games in 2009, only around 15% of sewage was being treated; though steps have been made to better that figure, it’s still reported that as much as 50% ofRio’s water is unsanitary. A particular problem for athletes who compete in the water, including open water swimmers, conditions could have adverse effects on health and performance. Further reports suggest that air quality is an even greater concern, as Rio has consistently fallen short of World Health Organisation standards. With the majority of problems caused by exhaust fumes from more than 2.7 million vehicles in the city, for WHO committee member Paulo Saldiva, Rio definitely cannot claim ‘Olympic air’. The ongoing problems were addressed as part of the Opening Ceremony, which carried a clear environmental message. During the athlete’s parade, every single competitor carried a seed and cartridge of soil to be planted as part of a new forest, in Rio’s Radical Park.

#1: Will the Rio 2016 Games Be a Success?
The Legacy

It’s hoped that the Athlete’s Forest will come to symbolize a long-term Olympic legacy in Rio, after a successful Games. However, critics continue topoint to the city’s various problems as reason why a summer of sport will do little to improve living conditions. Temporary fixes, such as fencing polluted rivers off from sports venues, will likely be removed once the athletes leave town, and apartments in the Olympic Village are set to be sold off to those who are already wealthy. There has already been some evidence of Rio’s social problems during the Games themselves, with reports of violent crime being witnessed by travelling spectators and a high security alert during the men’s road race on day one, when a controlled explosion was carried out on a suspicious package. Amnesty International also raises concerns about Rio’s increasingly violent security forces, present throughout the Games. All things considered, the success of the RioOlympics seems to be hinging on two things; safety and security during the event, and a continued effort to improve the city’s problems once the eyes of the world have looked away.
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