As the rest of the world watches on in anticipation of the 2016 Summer Olympics, the infrastructure of Rio de Janeiro is crumbling -- literally and figuratively. Chaos defines Brazil’s greater political situation, worries over the potential health risks of both the Zika virus and local water pollution are reaching an apex, and the paths and buildings that make up the host city are physically falling apart, leading to tragedy after tragedy with just months remaining until the Opening Ceremony.
A firsthand familiarity with this societal unrest, the dangers of life in Rio and the ambiguity of a nation in flux led Brazilian soccer icon Rivaldo to post a message of warning on his Instagram this weekend, urging potential visitors to steer clear of the Games come August.
“This morning in Rio de Janeiro bandits killed this [17-year-old girl],” the 2002 World Cup standout wrote in Portuguese. “Things are getting uglier here every day. I advise everyone with plans to visit Brazil for the Olympics in Rio -- to stay home. You’ll be putting your life at risk here.”
“This is without even speaking about the state of public hospitals … Only God can change the situation in our Brazil," he added.
Indeed, according to a recent Amnesty International report and as The Star notes, 11 people in Rio’s favelas were killed in police shootings in the first four weeks of April alone, a marker of the overall state of violence in the area. And with what Amnesty International called “a clear pattern of excessive use of force, violence and impunity that taints public security institutions” pervading the city this close to show time, the anxiety over the public’s safety is as understandable as it is troubling.
The nation’s worries were supposed to be -- at least in part -- alleviated as the public eye shifted to Brazil. Instead, we’re seeing a growing flurry of tragedy, set in motion by natural, biological, structural and human forces.
Hence Rivaldo’s warning. We have less than 100 days to go before the Games begin. Let’s all hope we have more answers for the city of Rio by the time the calendar shifts to August.