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Rio de Janeiro paying the price one year after staging successful Olympics

August 5, 2017 - BRAZIL

Rio de Janeiro hosted a successful Summer Olympics in 2016, and the first anniversary will remind Cariocas -- Rio citizens -- that the promised post-Games good times never arrived. The city and state are broke and broken.

The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, stated at the closing ceremony that "history will talk about a Rio de Janeiro before and a much better Rio de Janeiro after the Olympic Games." An IOC news release of the same time lists dozens of improvements to back up the statement. They include new world-class sports venues, the city's first public golf course, improved public transport and infrastructure, and new hotels for tourists.

The IOC maintains that the Games have also brought an economic legacy to the city and country, but Cariocas might not believe it. Proposed austerity measures to answer the financial crisis are causing protests, with the anger exacerbated by the daily stories about widespread corruption. The Washington Post describes the city as a financial, political and crime-ridden mess.

A federal bailout kept police on the streets and hospitals open while Olympics tourists were in town, but now the money has dried up, and public employees aren't being paid, according to a variety of sources.

The IOC release concludes with the assertion that the Games delivered "an important legacy of an increase in national unity and pride. . . . There is no doubt that the legacy of Rio 2016 will live on for a long time to come." That legacy is massive debt. Brazil-wide economic and political chaos, including a massive political corruption scandal amid a nasty impeachment battle, means Rio can't expect a federal rescue.

Rio hoped for a post-Olympics boom. Instead it is still mired in crisis (Wash Post 8 Dec 2016)

Rio's Post-Olympics Politics Are Less Than Divine (Bloomberg 30 Oct 2016)


Date written/update: 2016-12-15