Huge signs greet Rio Olympics 2016 athletes and visitors going into the city from the airport.
One sign reads, “Welcome to Hell.”
Another warns, “Whoever comes to Rio de Janeiro will not be safe.”
These signs are meant to scare off the visitors, and they are doing a good job of turning the world’s attention to Rio de Janeiro, the site of the 2016 Olympics.
What’s more interesting was that these signs were made by police officers and firefighters as a sign of protest. And the warning is clear: don’t expect the police to protect you when you come to Rio.
— Complex Sports (@Complex_Sports) July 5, 2016
The fact is, the Rio Olympics 2016 is in a crisis.
With the police in protest over back wages, the city government is hard put to ensure the security of the participants and tourists. But Rio de Janeiro could not do anything as the payments for public workers are handled by the broke state government.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, for instance, blasted the state government for the “terrible job” of security at the Rio Olympics.
Although most of the venues for the Olympics are being held away from dangerous neighborhoods, tourists who will inevitably stay in downtown areas are vulnerable.
— dwnews (@dwnews) July 2, 2016
Brazil actually managed to survive the World Cup finals two years ago except for some incidents of petty crimes.
“Since then, the economy has badly worsened as the country also confronts a months-long political crisis that will not be resolved before the Games end,” says the L.A. Times.
The residents of Rio, too, are feeling like being targeted at the altar of the state government’s desire to look good in the eyes of the world.
CNN talked to a resident of one of the favelas in Rio who claimed that the police brutality has intensified leading up to the Olympic Games.
Higor da Silva said that he and other residents are being intimidated “so they don’t cause trouble in the city.”
In this way, “foreigners can’t see that the city is chaotic,” he added.
Amnesty International, in fact, released a statement criticizing the police crackdown on the populace. It pointed out that during the hosting of the World Cup, around 60,000 were murdered in Brazil, a number of which were committed by state forces.
“As the Olympics security operation gets underway, without proper safeguards the number of killings by police could rise still further,” it added.
Nevertheless, Rio Olympics 2016 organizers have dismissed reports about the city being in crisis.
Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the organizing committee told reporters during a press conference, “We are ready to start the games… They will be a maximum success in this beautiful city of ours.”
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the federal government sent 85,000 police officers and soldiers to secure the Rio Olympics.
But the grumbling and discontent among the law enforcement officers posit a very real danger to tourists and participants alike.
“The week prior, two members of Australia’s Paralympic sailing team were mugged at gunpoint in broad daylight near their hotel in Rio,” the report said.
— adexsports (@adexsports) June 21, 2016
“That same day, Rio’s Souza Aguiar hospital was raided by 20 masked gunmen attempting to free an alleged drug kingpin,” it added. “One person was killed and two others injured in the shootout.”
Will the standoff between the state government and police officers come to a point where law enforcers look the other way while a crime is being committed? That’s the question foremost in everybody’s minds right now.
Jose Mariano Beltrame, state security secretary, earlier told the Associated Press that the budget cuts really affected the way they are planning the security for the Rio Olympics 2016.
“If I said the cuts won’t impact anything, I wouldn’t be accurate,” he said. “I wish I could have more policemen. I wish they could work twice as much on the streets.”
[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]