IOC to blame for Rio mess

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was the host of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games to the dismay of, or simply the sheer confusion of, many people. In 2009 when the country won the right to host the games they beat out Tokyo, Japan, the host of the 2020 Olympics, and many other seemingly more fit contenders. The term ‘won’ is loose and inaccurate, if anything considering the International Olympic Committee chooses the next host city based on an application and a substantial bid that proves a country’s willingness to host the games.

The IOC, which has long been accused of being money hungry and dishonest, is often followed by controversy. Most notably the scandal around the 2002 Salt Lake City winter games which lead to the resignation of several IOC members after reports came out that they had been bribed with millions of dollars worth of gifts, trips, plastic surgery and jobs for family members.

If that isn’t enough, the IOC conveniently calls Switzerland home, which allows the non-profit organization to avoid paying a 20 percent income tax. While all 98 of the IOC’s elite members do not receive an annual salary they do, however, get some major perks. One of these ‘perks’ includes free travel to the games and being driven around in limousines, at the expense of the host city and major companies vying to become an official sponsor of the games.

Extravagant ceremonies and sporting arenas dazzled the athletes competing there as well as everyone watching at home, but how did Rio manage to cover up the major atrocities dwelling, in some cases within seeing distance, from the hordes of tourists and athletes, in the city? Demolition. Not just the demolition of the impoverished homes and communities nearby, but of the lives of the people who lived there. After years of fighting with their government, only 20 of the 600 families that had lived in a neighborhood nearest to the site of the now Olympic Village were allowed to stay, but this too came with stipulations. The families’ homes would be torn down. New homes that were easier on the eyes would be built for them, because God forbid anyone in attendance of the games see a glimpse of what Rio is actually looks like when they aren’t hosting an event.

The residents of Rio face serious health risks, but so did the people traveling to the city, even for a short time. The games lasted a little over two weeks, but that is plenty long enough for the Zika virus to run rampant through the world’s most elite athletes. Rio has the most Zika cases of any state in in Brazil, with 26 thousand confirmed cases. While the Zika virus was discovered around 70 years ago, all assumptions of safety and control concerning the virus should be dismissed, because this is not the same as before. The virus has mutated— it’s stronger and much different.

In addition to the Zika virus, Rio’s waterways running through the city and beaches are filthier than ever. A 16-month study conducted by the Associated Press discovered dangerously high levels of viruses from the pollution, which includes raw sewage. All the competing athletes had been warned not to put their heads in the water, but primary concern was to the sailors, rowers and open-water swimmers who would be more directly exposed than, say, beach-going gymnasts.

The IOC is an organization that supposedly strives to cultivate unity throughout the world and be non-discriminative. I find this a little hard to believe, but hey, who am I to judge? Perhaps to Thomas Bach, the president of the IOC, good sportsmanship means tearing families from their homes and allowing athletes to frolic in raw sewage. To each their own, I suppose.