With the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics just a few months away, Brazil is spiraling out of control both economically and politically.
Brazilians are split between wanting to impeach President Dilma Rousseff for corruption, or keeping her in office at all costs to combat the political opposition. Meanwhile, inflation has topped 10 percent — its highest point in over a decade.
To add to all this turmoil, the 2016 Summer Olympics that Rio De Janeiro fought to host have been caught in the center of it all.
Because of the country’s unrest, many Brazilians appear to be less intrigued by the Olympic Games than by the other issues confronting the nation. Some of this disinterest is tangible: Rio de Janeiro’s events have only sold 50 percent of tickets with just four months until the opening ceremony.
Ricardo Leyser, the new minister of sport, says that Brazil isn’t done battling to make the Rio de Janeiro Olympics a success in 2016. Recognizing the low level of support among Brazilians, Leyser mentioned potential programs to distribute free tickets to less affluent citizens who may not be able to afford to attend any of the competition, reported Yahoo News.
“There is a perception that the Brazilian population has not yet woken up for the Games. We are going to work energetically on this because it’s still not in people’s heads. We need to sound an alert so that people remember this event and go and buy tickets.”
The Rio de Janeiro Olympics are far from immune to the endemic corruption facing Brazil. In fact, many of its key figures were at one point associated with Dilma. Earlier this week, Brazil’s sports minister was forced to resign because his political party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement (PMDB), left the president’s political coalition. Though he tried to drop out of the PMDB to keep his job, it appears that Rousseff is attempting to fill positions in her government with her remaining supporters to galvanize them to vote against her impeachment, reported The Guardian.
Dilma’s popularity reached a career-low approval rating of 15.9 percent in October, 2015. That number rose to 21.8 percent in February in a poll conducted by MDA. Despite these gains, a slight majority — 55.6 percent — maintain that the guerrilla-turned-president should be impeached, reported Bloomberg. A fumbled 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics would be unlikely to help.
Economic woes aside, nothing is dogging Dilma quite as much as the Petrobras scandal and another case which accuses her of using state banks to artificially lower the deficit while seeking re-election. In the case of the former, not only did the Operação Lava Jato investigation take off just after Rousseff won her second term, but she was also the oil company in question’s chairwoman of the board from 2003 to 2010.
Accusations at the heart of the scandal say that over-inflated construction contracts were awarded by Petrobras in order to launder money into the government — at least partially, some argue, to finance Dilma’s presidential campaign. In March, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, former president and mentor to Rousseff, was detained for interrogation about his role in the scandal. It’s not just within the president’s close circle either: from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia, past and present public officials are being prosecuted, reported the New York Times.
Brazil’s 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics will kick off this summer on Aug. 5 with the opening ceremonies.
[Image via Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]