The Rio de Janeiro state government declared a state of financial emergency Friday, weeks after an outbreak of the Zika virus and the discovery of super bacteria, prompting many to consider canceling the 2016 Olympics games.
Rio’s acting governor, Francisco Dornelles, declared the financial state of emergency so he could apply for Brazilian federal funds to help pay all the costs associated with the 2016 Olympic games, reports Fox News.
“The financial crisis has brought several difficulties in essential public services and it could cause the total collapse of public security, health care, education, urban mobility and environmental management.”
The country continues to struggle with an economic recession caused by the collapse of the petroleum industry, and Rio’s governor said his state would need help to successfully host the Olympics. Dornelles said his state is facing a “public calamity,” according to the USA Today.
“It is for the competent authorities to adopt exceptional necessary measures to rationalize all public services, with the aim of realizing the [Olympic] Games.”
The recession has made it difficult for Rio to pay the roughly $10 billion in venue and infrastructure costs needed to support the 2016 Games and has angered everyday citizens of Brazil.
Citizens have protested the high costs associated with the Games, arguing the money should be spent on hospitals, schools, and emergency services instead of the Olympics. Two of the state’s hospitals have already collapsed and been taken over by the government so doctors can keep being paid.
Public workers haven’t been paid in months and police officers have been forced to resort to begging for basic items like toilet paper from the public.
Dornelles took over as acting governor when the state’s elected governor left to undergo cancer treatment; his first act was to petition the Brazilian government for $900 million in emergency funds.
Rio is expecting some 500,000 foreign visitors during the 2016 Games and has committed to several infrastructure projects including a subway extension to the Olympic Park.
The Rio Games have also fallen under the shadow of a Zika virus outbreak that has prompted many big names in the media industry and several top-tier athletes to announce they won’t be going.
The World Health Organization has been repeatedly urged to move the Rio Games, but officials maintain there’s a “very low risk” of spreading the disease as a result of the Olympics, reports Fox News.
“The risks are no different for people going to the Olympics than for other areas where there are outbreaks of Zika.”
The threat of contracting the disease is real enough for many athletes that some have chosen to freeze their sperm before heading to Rio out of fear they may contract the Zika virus.
Add to that the fear that tourists and athletes will carry virus home after the Games and its easy to see why so many have started to question whether the 2016 Olympic Games should continue.
There’s also the recent discovery that Rio beaches, including several Olympic venues scheduled to host swimming and boating events, are awash in drug-resistant super bacteria.
Studies have shown super bacteria, usually found only in hospitals, to be present in areas frequented by tourists heightening fears Rio’s sewage-filled waterways are unsafe for use.
Rio officials promised back in 2009 they would clean the waterways, but little if any progress has been made.
The combination of financial crisis, Zika virus threat, and the presence of super bacteria have increased calls to move or cancel the Rio Games schedule to take place in just a few weeks.
If they’re not cancelled, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games will be hosted by Rio de Janeiro Aug. 5 to 21.
[Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images]