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Every four years, families gather around the television to witness their favorite divers, skaters and gymnasts compete for the gold – but according to some sources, things aren’t as great as they’re cracked up to be.
Brazil’s top government finance and spending regulator has said that this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro isn’t likely to bring any environmental gains, and that Brazil could ultimately experience more harm that benefits.
“Even with the games about to begin, there have been no significant advances in this area,” says Brazil’s Federal Audit Court (TCU). The association states that while several environmental projects surrounding the games have been promised, very few will be completed on time.
Brazil has long been the subject of environmental scrutiny. Massive debates regarding who holds sway over native lands have been occurring for years. Farmers have developed in areas that indigenous tribes claim to be ancestral. Violence over these lands occurs on a regular basis and has led to multiple injuries and deaths.
The country has also witnessed strife in the Amazon. Deforestation and illegal logging practices in the region has caused a massive decrease in biodiversity, and several land activists have lost their lives fighting corporations and corrupt officials.
Now, as the Olympic Games make their debut, an entirely new fight has begun. Recent survey data confirmed through the Ibope Polling Institute shows that more than half of Brazil’s population sees the games as a threat, potentially garnering more losses than gains for their native country. Only 32 percent see the event in a positive light, while a small minority remains neutral.
The survey shows an attitude of extreme pessimism. Similar results were seen in 2014 regarding the World Cup, which also occurred in Brazil. Data compiled from the institute shows that about 40 percent of Brazilians viewed the World Cup negatively.
“People are concerned about the country’s image abroad,” says chief executive Marcia Cavallari. “In the [Soccer World Cup], if the logistics hadn’t worked and Brazil had been champion, things would be fine. But not so with the Olympics. At the Olympics, the environment is more about integration, unity and brotherhood.” Cavallari explains that people generally consider the organization of the games far more important than who wins and who loses.
Residents have also shown concern over the Olympians themselves. Several delegations have abandoned housing at the games, citing poor living conditions as their reason. Native Brazilians are embarrassed about the circumstances, and feel such incidents give their country a bad name.
Over $12 billion has been pledged towards Olympic spending by state and federal officials for the expansion or firsthand construction of what they call “essential environmental infrastructure and other social improvements.” So far, such change has lacked progress. Trash flow remains relatively high in Brazil, along with raw sewage exposure and poor water quality for rowers and swimmers. Several contaminants have been found in Brazil’s water sources, and rowers are concerned that flowing debris will obstruct their boats.
“As for now, we have nothing relevant to report about what was done in the environmental area,” says TCU.