2016 Rio Olympics Opportunity For Brazil To Turn Negative Image Around?

Most of the coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics revolved around the Zika virus, recession, lax security, feces-filled waters, and a city totally overwhelmed by all the preparations for the Games.

But NBC broadcaster Bob Costas said that instead of focusing on the negative and crying foul, Rio de Janeiro officials should look at the hosting as an opportunity to show to the world that things are not as bad as they seem.

“We would be naive to think that they don’t face security problems, that they don’t face problems with sanitation, that their politics are not in upheaval,” he explained. “We’re watching to see how those issues turn out as much as we’re watching to see how the competitions turn out.”

Brazil is right in the middle of the longest recession in years, but no news agency gave significant coverage to the country’s economic struggles in connection to its hosting of the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Zika virus was also a major concern, but nothing blows up faster than the report of feces-infested water where some of the events will be held.

According to a scathing study, as of June this year, samples taken from the waters where the rowing events will be held showed 248 million adenoviruses for each liter. Gloria Marina, the site of the sailing events, also revealed 37 million adenoviruses per liter.

If indeed the 2016 Rio Olympics are to conclude without a hitch, all the negative press leading up to the games will be forgotten, he added.

Of course, it should be noted that NBC has a stake in the issue as the network prepares to dedicate nearly 7,000 hours of its programming to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

For his part, NBC Olympics producer Jim Bell said that the negative reports surrounding the Olympics didn’t seem to impact the numbers. In fact, he said, that the info relayed to them by the network’s research team was that the figures are “a little bit higher than they were heading into London.”

He also suggested that the Zika virus, although certainly grim news, is all but a non-story in Rio de Janeiro.

“Right now I think you could probably make the case that Zika is a bigger story in Florida than in Brazil or certainly in Rio where it is technically winter and much cooler and drier,” he said.

Still, despite the reported high ratings going into the games, resellers have been having a hard time getting rid of the tickets for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

A report from the Associated Press, as shared by the Chicago Tribune, revealed that two weeks prior to the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics, almost two million tickets of the total 6.1 million available are still not sold. A breakdown of the sales reveals that only 1.1 million tickets were purchased by foreigners — led by the Americans, French, Argentines, Germans, and Japanese, in that order.

To boost ticket sales, the government opened its own website to accept ticket transactions. That means buyers can get their tickets in the local currency, which is suffering because of the recession.

For instance, a typical ticket for the 2106 Rio Olympics from an American reseller would cost around $215, or maybe more if the reseller collects a 20 percent service fee. But people can order from the government website at just $150 with no hidden costs.

“We have tickets for all sports, so it’s a grand chance for people around the world to buy their tickets,” Rio ticket director Donovan Ferreti said.

Accordingly, up to 100,000 tickets are up for sale on the government website, which Ferreti said is the “last batch.”

[Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images]