Let’s face it. Most of us aren’t going to watch the 2016 Olympics just to see people running around a track. We’re watching with the secret, misanthropic expectation that something screwed up might happen.
The Olympics are an event supposed to capture the world mood, and Rio de Janeiro’s event looks like it’ll be the most 2016 part of 2016 yet. Here’s why:
Venues Are Still Being Built
The games are supposed to open on Friday, but they still haven’t finished building the damn place. Several teams refused to stay at the athletes’ village due to health and safety violations you’d expect from a dodgy London slum lord, with the USA staying on a cruise ship (also an easy means of escape). A sailing ramp recently collapsed, and cyclists have been practicing surrounded by workmen. Expect a part of the ceiling to fall off in the middle of a live event.
Nobody Wants To Go
Remember London 2012? Remember how they actually held lotteries because there were too many people wanting to buy tickets? Well, Rio doesn’t have to worry about that. Too bad if you jumped on those tickets back in 2012, because 2 weeks ago a quarter of the tickets remained unsold, and the organisers are in a desperate last minute push for sales. Expect to see a lot of schoolchildren bussed in to fill seats.
4 years ago, Brazil looked like a winner. Newspapers couldn’t stop talking about the BRICS economies and how they’re the next superpowers. Today, Brazil’s experiencing the worst recession since the 1930s, with negative effects on security, health and education. This is all thanks to the drop in oil prices. That’s not the only crisis though…
They Just Had A Coup
2 months ago Brazil’s president Dilma Rouseff was removed from power and is being impeached by her own government. While there’s a trial going on about corruption in the country’s government and uncertainty about who’ll even lead it, everybody’s supposed to forget about all that and throw a party for the world. Imagine if Britain had to host the World Cup just after Brexit, but worse.
Body Parts Keep Washing Up
Let’s say you don’t care about politics and just want to chill on the beach. You look over from your Caipirinha and spot a human foot. In a country rife with cartel violence this is a real concern; in June human body parts just casually washed up on Copacabana beach, metres away from where the volleyball will be held. More recently, a corpse was spotted in Guanbara Bay. Expect to see Olympic sailboats get snagged on…something.
Maybe you missed it, but for the past few months Brazil has been fighting a literal bug war against its mosquitoes. This is all to stop the spread of Zika, an infection that causes children to be born horribly deformed or worse. Apparently, the powers that be decided that sending athletes and thousands of tourists from all over the globe into the middle of an epidemic was a great idea.
Everything Else is Infectious Too
Zika’s not even the worst of it. Sailors and marathon swimmers will be competing in Guanabara Bay, which is almost guaranteed to end in an infection if you ingest any of the water. Somehow, swimming through 10km of piss, shit, oil, disembodied limbs and horrific diseases seems like a perfect metaphor for 2016. Expect desperate athletes to compete anyway, because they only get one shot at winning medals in their entire lives – even if there’s a chance of skin rot.
Athletes Keep Getting Mugged
The Olympic season is a time when the host city gets to show its best face to the world, but apparently Rio’s criminals didn’t get the memo. In May, Spain’s sailing team were robbed at gunpoint, as were this year’s whipping-boys Australia, who also saw their laptops stolen from the Olympic village during a fire evacuation. Expect the next mugging to actually happen on the running track.
It Could Cause An International Incident
The entire Russian team was almost banned for high levels of steroid use. The IOC probably only relented because banning a major world power run by a bald ex-KGB member would have been a diplomatic disaster. If any Russian athlete wins anything, expect a major dispute about doping and an international incident that will just make Putin’s supporters even more hateful of the West.
Forget gold medals, the real prize this year will be making it out alive.