The Rio Olympics of the last few weeks have been a festival of sport and a carnival of competition. Against the backdrop of the iconic Brazilian city, athletes from the world have come together to challenge for medals, set world records and inspire people to push their boundaries.
But among the celebrations, there are darker stories to be found.
No money? No problem!
There have been plenty of stories that the competition organisers have run out of money, as the costs of the event have inevitably spiralled out of control, and vastly exceeded budget.
More surprisingly (and upsetting) perhaps, are the revelations that money earmarked for the Paralympics has been used to plug the financial holes of the main games. If true, this is a disgraceful and shameful turn of events. To compromise the competition for the disabled athletes, all of whom put as much time, effort and hope into their preparations as their able-bodied counterparts, simply because of financial mismanagement and incompetence of the Rio organisers and the IOC is staggering in its arrogance. To jeopardise the hopes and dreams of the paralympic competitors at this late stage is heartbreaking, and let’s hope this mess is investigated fully, and lessons learned to prevent a repeat in Tokyo.
There is an answer to the financial issues which riddle the staging of an event on this scale. Rather than selecting a different host city for every future Olympics, why not just stage the event in the same place? Once the infrastructure is in place, costs for future games would be far more easily managed and the Paralympic follow-up event may not find itself in this position again.
Lochte into a deception
Back to the current games, surely the most bizarre and disturbing story to emerge from Rio is the ‘armed robbery’ of the Unites States swimmers. As the story unfolds, it seems that the swimmers weren’t actually the victims of an attempted robbery. It seems likely that they were the perpetrators of vandalisation at a petrol station, and the armed robbers were, in fact, security guards at that location.
Ryan Lochte has, after fleeing Brazil, accepted responsibility for the shameful incident, and admitted that he “over-exaggerated” the story. He said he was embarrassed by his (and his team-mates’) behaviour, and put it down to his “immaturity”.
Chief of Police for Rio de Janeiro, Fernando Veloso, denied the security guards had used excessive force against the athletes, and suggested that the Americans “were not victims of the criminal actions that they claimed they were. They fabricated a story.”
Lochte has apologised (eventually) to the people of Rio and Brazil. “They put on a great games. The people of Rio or Brazil, the authorities, everyone there put on a great games. And my immature behavior tarnished that a little, and I don’t want that,” Lochte said.