Rio 2016: A battle of Wills?

Olympics - Rio 2016

Just like any other international event, the Summer Games managed to gain everyone’s attention. Broadcast across more than a hundred different channels, including channels specifically put up for the Olympics, they can hardly escape controversial disputes. Whilst more than 10,000 athletes are competing in the first edition of Olympic Games in South America, the entire world is engrossed in the discussion of a good number of issues that, very often, are not really sport-related.

Disputable for months

Olympics - Zika Virus

In May 2015, Brazil suffered an outbreak of a mosquito-borne virus, later dubbed as the Zika Virus and declared to be a public health emergency. Recommendations by the World Health Organisation to avoid the infected areas put an additional burden on all organisers to secure a smooth successful running of The Games. Pregnant women, or women thinking of getting pregnant, were advised to refrain from travelling to the games, despite all efforts to convince everyone that travelling to Brazil in August is safe, given that it is a time when the mosquito population is likely to die out.

On the spot lapses

Rio 2016 saw the Chinese delegation discontented with the faulty national flags raised during the first medal giving ceremonies. Instead of the four small stars encircling the large star with each of their points facing the large star, the Rio edition of the Chinese flag involved all the four stars positioned upright. You got all mixed up? The Chinese are very passionate about having their little stars slightly rotated, and not rigidly straight. And no, they weren’t made in China. Although a lot of equipment used during the Summer Games was made in China, the faulty flags were actually manufactured in Brazil.

Given the immense magnitude of such competitions, bitter comments are no surprise, even among the athletes themselves. China’s delegation at the Summer Games was not only obstructed by the Chinese flag mishap. Sun Yang, China’s swimmer, got called a “drugs cheat”, by Australia’s Mack Horton, who still managed to win a gold medal. We just wonder what could have happened to Yang if things didn’t go so well for Horton. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Trivial portrayals

Olympics - Refugees

For the first time since their inception, the Olympic Games have welcomed a group comprising only of refugees to raise awareness about the hurdles and obstacles standing in their way. Apart from the fact that some of them could not represent their country. A group of 10 refugees, carrying no flag and no national anthem, are just a representation of the thousands of displaced individuals and asylum seekers, and the high level of acceptance promoted by the United Nations.

Amusingly, the biggest sporting event manages to welcome 10 refugees whilst displacing thousands of locals. 77,000 nationals have been displaced from Rio de Janeiro in light of the Pan American Games (2007), the UN Earth Summit (2012) and the World Cup (2014). The people of Barra and Vila Autódromo, whose lives before the Games were very humble and rural, had to bid goodbye to years of hard work, dedication and love to make space for the international community occupying the area for just a couple of months. Whereas the new bus lines; the revitalisation of some old parts of the city; the grand museums and parks; and the improved infrastructure will remain in Brazil for the benefit of all, the violent riots that took place prior to the setting up of the extravagant Olympic infrastructure will not be easily forgotten. It’s a sinful world indeed!