Rio 2016 Olympics are over. The spotlights are now off and the dust has finally settled in on the ground. The city that hosted the Summer Olympics for two weeks amid political and economic mishaps has somehow managed to bring everything to an end with relative success and a sigh of relief.
However, opinions vary whether the Rio 2016 Olympics will leave a lasting legacy for Brazilians to look back with pride.
Some say it will. Others are hesitant to simply say no. Still one other lonely voice, Mark Kiszla’s of The Denver Post, has the guts to say that Rio de Janeiro deserves to be given yet another shot at hosting the Summer Olympics.
It is, in short, as Stephen Wilson of Associated Press put it, “a mixed bag.”
“Yes, Brazil managed to pull it off under difficult economic and political conditions,” Wilson said, “with the sports competitions, venues, athletes, friendly hosts, television images and Rio’s scenic backdrops all rising to the occasion.”
“Yet, behind the scenes,” Wilson continued, “these were also troubled Olympics that fell short in other areas – empty seats, ticket fiascos, organizational mishaps, spread-out venues, green water, street crime, traffic chaos and lack of a clear Olympic feel in the parks.”
For the most part, according to Wilson, everything that transpired in Rio 2016 Olympics was nothing but a grim reminder of the blunders committed in Atlanta in 1996, “where great sporting moments contrasted with lost buses, failures in the technology system and other off-the-field problems.”
“It’s been amazing. The Olympics brought people together despite the crisis and the divisions over impeachment. Rio emerged from this with pride,” said Julia Guimarães, speaking on behalf of her fellow hardworking volunteers, as quoted by Jonathan Watts of The Guardian.
Obviously offended by the media’s exaggerated criticism of the host city, Julia could not help but insist to focus more on the “zero problem with Zika,” pointing out further that “barely 10 percent of the other prophecies of doom proved to be accurate.”
Brazil’s tourism ministry shares the same optimism, even expecting a post-Olympics tourism boost as “83.1 percent of foreign tourists and 98.7 percent of Brazilians said their experience of Rio either met or exceeded their expectations,” as reported by Rio2016.com, the official website of the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The website reports that Brazil’s tourism ministry projects a six percent growth in the influx of tourists to the country over the next year.
“This is what we expect, it could even exceed this estimate,” said Jun Yamamoto, the ministry of tourism’s director of planning and strategic management, as quoted on the website.
For its part, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) offered “a glowing assessment of the athletics achievements, the sports venues and the spirit of the Brazilian people” which, according to IOC president Thomas Bach, was “iconic”
“We have seen iconic athletes across all the sports,” Bach told reporters at the Rio 2016 Olympics wrap-up press briefing. “The level of competition over all the sports was extremely high, and I can only congratulate the athletes for their stunning performances. This is only possible if you have excellent venues.”
“The Brazilians were great hosts and united behind these Games. With the joy of life of the Brazilians, they turned this into a great party for everybody,” added Bach, as quoted on IOC’s official website.
On the other hand, Brazilian anthropologist, social scientist and philosopher Luis Eduardo Soares, in an article in The Guardian, paints a rather bleak picture of post-Rio 2016.
Calling it “an Olympic hangover,” Soares said that while Rio de Janeiro has proved to the world that it knows how to organize and promote big events like the Olympic games, “as the festive air and the tourism subside, and with the Paralympics due to start in a matter of weeks, the old problems remain.”
“It is now that the residents of Rio de Janeiro begin to wonder: what will the legacy be? As we present ourselves to the world, have we revealed our faults? Or has the power of our cultural creativity come to the fore? Therein lies the contradiction of Rio: the combination of beauty and poverty, hedonism and inequality, a carnival atmosphere and bloody violence.”
The said project, Soares noted, buried his country into excessive debts, pointing further to the corruptions that subsequently surfaced “involving members of the federal government, state and municipal governors, and almost 200 federal members of congress and senators from across almost all parties… the greatest scandal in the history of the Brazilian republic.”
Soares, however, was not uncharitable to the toils and pains many of his countrymen bravely endured without pay, if only to ensure the success of Rio 2016 Olympics, which has gifted their country with most Olympics medals ever.
“Despite all this, the Rio Olympics have been a success. What worries me – and many residents – is what happens the day after they finish. In a short while the Olympic Games will be memory, but they will last for us, who live in Rio, as a major object of political dispute and a challenge for the future. Rio de Janeiro is good – incredible – at the spectacular. Our problem is the everyday.”
[Photo by Natacha Pisarenko/AP Images]