Remember the Rio Olympics? From the summer? You know: Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, etc. Well, it turns out the organizers still haven’t paid hundreds of people who helped to put the games together, and the workers are so angry that they’re ready to sue.
Among the hundreds of people who have not been paid are stadium announcers, show producers, DJs and people who work for the official Olympic news service.
South African freelance show producer Rocky Bester is now acting as a spokesman for 100 contractors who are struggling to receive payment for their work this summer. He told the Associated Press that Rio was the seventh Olympics of his career, but that he has never seen organizers respond to his and others’ requests for information with such silence.
“We’ve had robust conversations at other Olympics about payments, but it’s always been an open conversation,” Bester told the AP. “What is happening here is that no one is talking back. We’re sitting in the dark. We’re mushrooms at the moment.”
Rio organizers might not be responding to their workers, but spokesman Mario Andrada did respond to the AP, saying that the problem is that sponsors are late on their own payments to the organizers. ‘’The trouble is the delay. We will pay the money,” Andrada said.
Even before news of the non-payments surfaced, money- and labor-related issues continuously popped up around the Rio Olympics. Mere weeks before the Rio Games, which were supposed to be privately financed, Rio received an $850 million bailout for infrastructure and security costs after cops went half a year without getting paid for overtime. In April, a report out of the Rio de Janeiro’s Regional Labor and Employment Office said 11 people died building infrastructure for the games, compared to zero in London in 2012.
The Rio Olympic games may be over, but the fight over their existence clearly is not.