Editorial, by Stone Korshak
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – We started The Rio Times in March 2009, and by October it was announced that Rio de Janeiro would host the 2016 Olympic Games. At the time it seemed like it was a long ways away, and even over the last six-plus years since the announcement of ‘winning’ – it has often seemed like a future concern. Now 2016 is here, and the big question of the year will be – is Rio ready?
In April 2009 when the Olympic Committee arrived in Rio to discuss the bid to host the Games, Brazil and Rio were a very different place. Then-president Lula was perhaps the most popular leader Brazil had ever seen and was being praised and high-five’d around the world. Black gold had just been found deep underwater off the coast of Rio (and neighboring states), and Brazil’s oil and gas was open for business.
Now almost seven years later, it’s a different story. The biggest issues are the economy in recession and the political mess that the current administration finds itself. Calls for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff on the grounds of dodgy financial management of the government account on a campaign year (cooking the books essentially) are as divisive as her re-election.
This of course is on the front burner because of the mega-corruption scandal which started as Lava Jato (Car Wash) and is now being termed Petrolão (Big Oil), where BILLIONS of dollars has been siphoned into various kickbacks on the shoulders of a oil and gas boom – which has since gone bust.
One would literally have to not read any current news about Brazil to not know the economy has taken the blows. The currency has plummeted, inflation is high, unemployment is on the rise, the national deficit is growing, all the bad news setting the stage for the countdown to the Rio 2016 Games.
Just before Christmas government press announced they needed R$1 billion more to finish perhaps the most important infrastructure improvement, the metro (subway) extension from Zona Sul (South Zone) to Barra da Tijuca – Olympic zone where fifty percent of the Games will be held. This metro extension is key to reducing the bottleneck transportation congestion between the neighborhoods, and a cornerstone of the Olympic infrastructure legacy.
The opening of the new metro line is now scheduled for July 1st 2016, in time for the beginning of the Olympic Games in the city on August 5th. So, if the funds are provided… it will open a month before the Olympics… in Rio, a city known for it’s prompt delivery. Not exactly a sure bet.
We could also talk about the polluted waters of Guanabara Bay, and how over a year ago officials admitted that the Olympic pledge of an eighty percent cleanup will not be possible. Or we could list the ways Brazil has not been able to execute nearly thirty percent of the infrastructure investments promised.
That’s not to say infrastructure improvements have not happened, and truthfully some positive advancements have been felt in the city. It is also not to say that the completion, or lack of, will mean the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are not a success. There were lots of doom-callers leading up to the 2014 World Cup, which from FIFA’s perspective seemed to go without a hitch. The Olympics are coming this year, August 5th – 21st, ready or not, so let the Games begin.
PS – This morning we made a slight change to our website design, changing the color of the home page and navigation bar, as well as text links to black rather than red. It’s just a little refresh for the new year.
PSS – We are also very happy to say our next Print edition will be out January 18th, (MLK day in the U.S.), and after six months on hiatus, we couldn’t be more excited to see it one the street just two weeks before Carnival 2016!