The Rio Olympics kick off today with opening ceremonies. Over the next couple of weeks, the best athletes in the world will be pumped up with both hope and adrenaline as they compete to win the gold medal and conquer their dreams.
The Olympics is always an exciting time for both viewers and participants, but danger is always a concern surrounding such a huge event, and the 2016 Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, are no exception.
Terror attacks, human trafficking, the Zika virus, and water pollution are among the risk factors associated with this year’s Summer Olympics.
The bodies of water where some athletes will be competing in are anything but ideal, as they’re contaminated with raw sewage.
According to the Independent, a 16-month-long study of the water from Rio’s lakes and streams was conducted by the Associated Press, and the results are startling.
“The AP’s survey of the aquatic Olympic and Paralympic venues has revealed consistent and dangerously high levels of viruses from the pollution – a major black eye on Rio’s Olympic project that has set off alarm bells among sailors, rowers, and open-water swimmers.”
Results of the study came in waves, with the first set becoming available in 2015.
These results revealed that if a human were to swallow as little as three teaspoons of water from Rio’s lakes and streams, that person, depending on the vitality of their immune system, may well become significantly ill.
How ill and by what kind of contaminant is unknown, since there are a multitude of viruses and bacteria that could be yielded from this type of human waste.
Athletes have been trying different things to prepare for the potential consequences of spending time in the water, from loading up on antibiotics, to wearing suits made of plastic to limit exposure. But antibiotics are useless against viruses, and shielding the body with plastic won’t help any if you’ve swallowed a mouthful of water.
There is virtually nothing you can do to eliminate the risks, short of staying out of the water altogether. The expert from the Independent article advises that if you must swim, don’t submerge your head below the surface of the water, which could work for vacationers, but not so much for competing athletes.
The Rio Olympics will attract hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world into one city, which is a human trafficker’s dream come true. Prostitution is legal in Brazil, a fact that can act as an important advantage to the criminals dealing in the skin trade.
International Business Times reported that eight people were rescued from a sex trafficking operation in early July, not far from where the Olympics are set to take place.
“Rio de Janeiro police rescued three girls as young as 15 among eight people forced to work in a prostitution ring near the beaches where Olympic events will be held. The operation is part of a wider crackdown on sex-trafficking operations ahead of the Games to battle child prostitution.”
An article published by Deseret News National in January of 2015 revealed that over 100 people were arrested during the Super Bowl of 2011 in Dallas for having sex with underage victims.
“Over 10,000 ‘prostitutes’ — many of whom were trafficking victims — were brought into Miami for the Super Bowl in 2010, and during the Dallas Super Bowl in 2011, there were 133 arrests for sex with minors,” according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“The enormity of the sporting event provides an ideal setting for traffickers to cash in,” says Nita Belles, anti-trafficking activist and author of “In Our Backyard,” an account of trafficking in the U.S.
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, and it unfortunately has many obstacles in the way to successfully combat it. There is no shortage of anti-trafficking groups out there to get involved with if one wishes to get involved in fighting for this aspect of human rights.
It’s no big surprise that terror is on the mind of Brazilian authorities. After all, what better time and place for Islamic radicals to terrorize the people they deem as “infidels” than a gathering of tens of thousands of them from all around the world?
According to a CNN article, 12 people have already been arrested for planning to launch terror related crimes during the Games. All native Brazilians, the group was planning to answer the call of lone wolf attacks by ISIS militants. Fortunately, they were far from experienced terrorists, according to Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes, hence the reason they got caught.
“De Moraes said the group was not an organized cell, calling it ‘absolutely amateur — with no preparation.'”
The group essentially said. “‘Let’s start training in martial arts, let’s start learning how to shoot,’ the justice minister said.
“He noted the group tried to buy a gun online, which no organized cell would do.”
Brazilian authorities are keeping a close watch on known jihadi websites, where ISIS militants across the globe encourage lone wolf attacks, specifically attacks directed at Olympic tourists and even athletes.
Preparations for a potential massacre include launching fake attack simulations for practice in case the real thing happens.
“Brazilian forces have been working with French SWAT teams to simulate attack scenarios. In one drill, Brazil special forces and a police dog chase down an armed gunman to thwart a possible attack on Rio’s subway system.”
Ever since an outbreak of Zika was discovered to have started in Brazil, the fact that the Summer Olympics were being held there has been a topic of controversy. The virus causes a severe birth defect, and in some cases has caused neurological ailments and death to those infected.
The Wall Street Journal reported on a number of factors that make Brazil a prime location for the Zika virus to spread.
“The main factors that support Zika-bearing mosquitoes include temperature, precipitation, humidity, and population density,” according to a study by Oxford University. “That combination makes Rio highly susceptible to transmission of the disease, suggest the study’s data, which are based on annual averages.”
However, the article notes that the study done by Oxford University was done during Rio’s summer. It is now winter in the Southern Hemisphere, so things like temperature, rainfall, and humidity have become milder and thus the number of Zika cases in the country have recently dwindled.
Paulo Gadelha, who runs the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, a top medical research institute in Brazil, has said that the risk of Zika to the estimated 500,000 Olympic attendees is minimal.
“Several simulation studies show that the expectation of contamination is 1.8 cases per one million people. This is a very low risk.”
It looks as if Zika is not something to stress about during the Rio Olympics. If you’re able to keep from swimming in Rio’s natural waters, you won’t have to worry about accidentily swallowing a potentially disease-filled mouthful.
There are real potential dangers and fears for the Rio Olympics, and they’re based on man taking advantage of opportunity. Let’s hope that the athletes, tourists and those working security and other venue-related jobs all have a safe and fun time during their stay.
Let the Games begin!
[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]