Rio 2016 proves that Africa’s shot at the Olympics is still off target

By evelyn watta
Aug 02, 2016
  • A shot of the Olympic games park in in Rio De Janeiro.(Photo:Rio2016)

  • A shot of the athletes games village in Rio De Janeiro.(Photo:Rio2016)

  • A post from twitter of Chinese athletes fixing their shower curtains.(Photo:Twitter)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil’s trek to the Olympics will be a long one. The games are now just four days away but the city is still beset with problems.

There had been talk of delaying the games over the Zika virus months ago, in what could have been an ideal set back for the Samba nation.

It is evident that this emerging nation was not ready to host South America’s first Olympic games.

Seven years flew past so fast. Brazil beleaguered by a political crisis that has had its president, Dilma Rouseff suspended is struggling.

It is difficult to feel the warming Olympic spirit that should be easy to embrace on the famed Copacabana sandy white beaches.

The days ahead until the Olympic flames goes off on August 22 could be tedious for the Rio organising team. The complaints and concerns increase as the 10, 500 athletes and media villages fill up.

Chinese media commentators and the team fans feel the Rio 2016 is the worst Olympics ever.

“The event wins a gold medal in bad, making London 2012, which was criticized by some, look good by comparison,” claimed a report on BBC.

When the Australians checked into the athletes' village last week, they were shocked and angered by the loosely hanging wires, blocked toilets and and leaking roofs.

The British press also reported that their national Olympic Association officials has plumbers on standby to sort out any emergencies in their athletes’ village, so as not to bother the already overwhelmed Rio team.

Construction work going on 

There is construction work still going on at some roads and some of the venues are yet to be completed, which has completely killed the International Olympics Committee vision to open up the games to more cities in South America, India and even Africa as captured in the Agenda 2020.

The main access ramp at Marina da Gloria, the Olympic sailing venue collapsed last weekend.

Last April the touted bicycle path crumpled killing two, palpable of the last minute rush to beat the deadlines and get venues ready that has somewhat compromised the quality of the work done.

Then there is worry that the facilities and competition venues could be stretched to the limit when the Olympics begins on Saturday August 6.

Protests and budget cuts 

“If Brazil is struggling I think it will take Africa another 100 years to host the Olympics,” a journalist from North Africa remarked as he wrote down a list of things that he needed fixed in his newly occupied apartment at one of the allocated media villages.

Shower heads falling off, broken taps, toilets have been the most common reported glitches here.

Sadly, though the reality of the problems even after spending about 12 billion US dollars (121 Trillion shillings) to host the games, there are evident budget cuts.

Money that the 14 million Rio dwellers have repeated over and over again should not have been spent as key service workers - police, teachers and hospital staff were reported to have been paid their salaries late.

The dream Olympics is now turning around to haunt the emerging nation which is now experiencing one of the worst recessions in years. These past weekend, protests carried on across Rio.

Residents protested in support of the suspended president who is awaiting an impeachment trial next month. The political crisis aside, the security concerns soar. There have been multiple reports of athletes and even members of the media robbed over the last few days.

Rio 2016 could beat Athens 2004

“I was in Athens in 2004 and that was not good. But I think this could beat what we experienced then. Athens too had a lot of construction work going on until the last minute. We are paying a lot to cover this games from accommodation to food,” noted an American broadcast journalist as he grabbed his ‘quantified’ kilo dinner from the main press center, MPC.

A simple meal from the Brazilian style kilo restaurant serving the media will knock you off about Ksh.2000($20), which is plainly killing the spirit of Olympics.

Even the media kits that rae usually handed out to the media have run out. 

The organisers had promised to have a vending coffee and tea machines in the MPC to serve the thousands of media already in Rio for the games.

AIPS protests inadequate food 

A concern that was picked by the International Sports Press Association president Gianni Merlo.

“My recent inspection of the MPC confirmed that the food and beverage services at the MPC are to say at the very least totally underestimated and inadequate. There is one very small refreshment station with water, coffee and tea that is not able to support the more than 5,000 accredited media who will make the MPC their base.

Water is not enough - there is no bottled water, coffee and tea is simply not served in adequate quantities, so the containers are empty most of the time,he wrote in a letter addressed to Carlos Arthur Nuzman President, Rio 2016 Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Morocco, Egypt and South Africa have in the past indicated their willingness to host the games, that even Kenya which is struggling to pull off one event championships, clowned they plan to bid for in the near future.

From the experience in Rio, let us just stick to our lane.

The African National Olympic had indicated that the 2028 Summer Games is a realistic target to bring the games to Africa after South Africa pulled out of the 2024 bid, but it is clear that even the co-hosting suggestion is not feasible.