January 2018

The Olympic Games did not bring Rio de Janeiro and the Cariocas what had been hoped for and promised. During the preparations, Brazil faced a political and economic crisis and as a result the country is now worse off than a number of years ago. The Organising Committee is still dealing with large debts to suppliers, while the arrest of Carlos Nuzman, former head of Rio 2016 and the Brazilian Olympic Committee, in October 2017 on suspicion of bribery to get Rio de Janeiro chosen as the host of the Olympic Games in 2009, may be just the tip of the corruption iceberg.

In February 2017, photos of the Olympic Aquatics Stadium spread all over the world. The temporary stadium where athletes such as Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky wrote history only six months earlier looked as if it had been abandoned for years. These images were considered characteristic of the situation Rio de Janeiro was in. The examples were piling up. Due to a lack of money, the park of Deodoro was closed only months after it had been reopened, and the famous Maracanã Stadium appeared to have been left in a poor state after the Olympics. Plus, the Brazilians themselves weren’t in luck either. Last July, a fire broke out in the recently reopened Velodrome after a fire balloon had landed on its roof. In November, just four months later, a second, small fire broke out, which was also caused by a fire balloon.

There is some good news, however. A number of venues have successfully been given a new function in the past year. The Carioca Arena 3 and the Youth Arena, for instance, are now used by the local community and the Olympic Tennis Arena was used as a beach volleyball stadium last summer for the FIVB Volleyball World Tour. Barra Olympic Park was partially reopened to the public in January 2017 and was used for the first time in September as a location for the multi-day Rock in Rio music festival.

The biggest changes in the city after the Olympic Games are the redeveloped harbour area and the new metro line from Zona Sul to Barra Tijuca. In addition, the new Bus Rapid Transit lines have considerably shortened the travel times between various districts in the western part of the city. All these projects would probably not have been completed yet without the pressure of the coming Olympics.

IOC president Thomas Bach aptly described the Olympic Games of Rio de Janeiro as ‘the most perfect imperfect Games’. Although the preparations for the Olympics were chaotic and filled with scandals, the Olympic Games themselves were reasonably successful and went by without incidents worth mentioning. For two weeks, sporting achievements were in the foreground and Rio de Janeiro showed its most beautiful, festive and spectacular side.


1. Update Summer 2017

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