Budget in Rio

The author of this photo is A scene from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. The author is U.S. Army. From Wikimedia Commons.

As Rio 2016 is finding its place in Olympic history, it is time for reflection. What will the Olympic Games in Rio be remembered for in years to come?

Firstly, the poor preparations of the Olympic City and Rio’s facilities in general have left yet another scar on an Olympic history of excellence, and the disappointing facilities reflect badly on the hosting city and nation. Naturally one must ask why Brazil and Rio applied to host the biggest event in the world; and secondly, why the IOC believed that (and excuse my pessimism) a ‘third world’ country with a failing economy could manage this huge responsibility.

Brazil’s declining economy and depressing social structures must be mentioned in relation with a long list of hopelessly chosen hosting cities. Beijing built Olympic mega structures on people’s homes and used underpaid labour; whilst Athens could not finish the Olympic stadiums because of its country’s financial situation (the Greeks partially blame the Olympics for their contemporary bankruptcy). Human rights issues, especially regarding gay rights, in Sochi, Russia also lead to questioning of the IOC’s ability to choose the right host. It is a catastrophe that none of the failures listed above have neither changed the IOC leadership or its decision making process.

To turn to a more positive note, the Olympics always creates impressive results. The United States once again beat all opponents and regained its position as the number one medal collector. The UK impressed everyone and achieved its best result ever away from London. Rio also became the Olympics where Russia crumbled, and (some might say finally) succumbed – at least partly – to higher powers, such as anti-doping organisations.

Simone Biles’ charm and unrivalled talent made her performances memorable. Her talent awakes flashbacks to Olympic gymnast legend Nadia Comaneci.

Michael Phelps did it again, again, again and then he managed to do it one more time. The overall Olympic medal record holder showed that his swimming talent will never be equalled.

Usain Bolt managed as the first man in history to become the fastest man in three 100m, 200m, and 400m medley consecutive Olympic finals. Bolt emphasised his position as a universal icon.

Brazil won the football tournament, and the proud football nation, led by superstar Neymar, has thus regained a bit of its former glory. Mentioning team sport performances, it is interesting to note that the most popular sports at the Olympics in regards to spectators were football and handball. FIFA and IHF are by far the two biggest sports federations in the world, but both sports receive less coverage than their size justifies. Germany won the women’s gold in football, whilst Denmark’s men and Russia’s women took home gold in handball.

Drama, however, was an aspect missing completely from the opening and closing ceremonies. Perhaps my pro-European and pretentious ‘Britishness’ would not be satisfied by anything less than the London extravaganza, but when Gisele’s catwalk over the Macarena was the absolute highlight of an Olympic ceremony, it can only be categorised as a failure (taking nothing away from Gisele). The ceremonies became the symptom of the facilities and surroundings built to accommodate the biggest sports stars on the planet. There was no Spice Girl surprise, no beautiful John Lennon message, no girl screaming One Direction, no cultural Harry Potter reference, no funny Mr. Bean or amazing parachute jump from James Bond and the Queen herself.

The opening and closing ceremonies, just as the Rio facilities, were all on a tight budget, and the entertaining and spectacular stage showed that the Olympics turned out to be very different from the amazing display of London, 2012.

Luckily, the before mentioned athletes rose above and shined on their own.

Ricki Lyngsøe

Global Seven News

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