Ah, the Summer Olympics! In 2016, everyone's favorite source of doping scandals, "Will they be ready in time?" media hand-wringing, and Ryan Lochte stupidity took place in Rio de Janeiro amidst the usual construction panic (and slightly less usual insane pollution levels). But the occasional poop-water bay aside, Rio still attracted a whole host of tourists for the event, and even after the Olympics and Paralympics were over, the city would greatly benefit from the new infrastructure it'd built for the competition ... R-right?
The Insane Aftermath:
While Rio was building megastructures for the Olympics, Brazil was suffering from a massive case of what economists call "no dang money" and corrupt officials. Impeached presidents, that kind of thing. (Though in this case, it wasn't the impeached president who was corrupt.) The country's still not what you'd call a paragon of fiscal stability, and it turns out that countries are just like people: In financially tough times, the first thing that goes to shit is all the ridiculously expensive, high-maintenance crap you bought to impress your friends.
What's impressive, however, is just how quickly Rio managed to turn its prized Olympic venues into post-apocalyptic scenery. After about six months, all that's left from the elaborate $13 billion Olympics was a bunch of debt-riddled, polluted, filthy hellscape structures that would make a Fallout character complain about the hamfisted atmosphere. Athletes have been replaced by looters and vandals. Mud and rat shit encrusts the Olympic pools ... which, now that I think about it, should be an Olympic event all on its own. The 100m filth trudge. Even the pride and glory of the event, the Maracana Stadium, now stands a darkened, barren husk that owes almost $1 million in electricity costs alone.
The locals have been fucked over way worse than the venues themselves, as most of the Olympic buildings and infrastructure were supposed to ease everyone's life in some way or another. Some of the venues were intended to be transformed into schools. (Nope!) The athletes' village was supposed to be converted to high-demand apartments. (Only 10 percent of the units have been sold!) The canoe slalom pool was supposed to stay open as a free swimming pool for a poor neighborhood. (Totally closed now!) The rapid bus lines that caused at least one favela's sole leisure space to be completely torn down were supposed to help the community. (The buses still work, but the poor community has no access to them because there's no terminal!)
And while the Olympic park does remain open to the portion of the public that's not too wary of tetanus or radscorpions, its complete lack of basic services, such as functional bathrooms (hey, that might explain those brown pools!), has pretty much left it a wasteland. The officials keep making promises that things will turn around, and who knows? Maybe one day in a distant, better future, they even might make good on their promises, provided that super mutants haven't declared the Maracana an independent state by then. For now, everyone seems to talk about the Olympics and their impact on Rio and the whole country as a white elephant.
But surely, the Olympics were at least good for Brazil's athletes? They won 19 medals and garnered worldwide attention, for fuck's sake! Well, don't say that to Philip Wu, who took home a silver medal in the 10m air pistol event. Instead of getting showered in accolades, financial dire straits and lack of funding have forced him to cut his competition and traveling schedule, and he recently got evicted for his troubles. Open water swimming bronze medalist Poliana Okimoto flat out states that her life is somehow more difficult than before winning the medal. In fact, the entire Brazilian sports scene is suffering the kind of crisis that'll affect this generation of athletes and the next. The government can't afford them anymore, sponsors have dried up, training centers are getting closed down, and elite coaches have fled the country like it was on fire. But hey, at least they have that kickass opening ceremony to reminisce about, right?
Pauli Poisuo is a Cracked columnist and freelance editor. Here he is on Facebook and Twitter.
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