The Olympic torch loses its light on Rio favelas

  • Say What
  • Wednesday, 10 Aug 2016

Residents of Rio de Janeiro demonstrate against interim president Michel Temer, political upheaval, corruption and the cost of the Rio 2016 Olympics Games, in front of the Copacabana Palace Hotel on August 5, 2016. Thousands of Brazilians angry at political upheaval, corruption and the cost of the Rio Olympics blocked traffic in protests hours before the gala opening ceremony. Most people came to vent anger at center-right interim president Michel Temer who took power in May on the suspension of the elected leftist president, Dilma Rousseff, for an impeachment trial that her supporters claim amounts to a coup. / AFP PHOTO / TASSO MARCELO

THE Olympics may be the mother of all Games, but most Brazilians are oblivious to it.

There is hardly a palpitating fever for the Games, unless you are bitten by the mosquitoes carrying Zika virus. The Cariocas (the residents of Rio de Janeiro) simply don’t give a hoot about it.

On the second day of the Games on Saturday, there was a game between Flamengo and Atletico Paranaense. Most of the Cariocas were glued to their TVs or at the game.

If you move around Rio, there is hardly any evidence that an Olympic is taking place. Most of the venues are in Barra (pronounced Ba-ha), about an hour’s drive from downtown Copacabana.

There is no Olympic buntings or banners around the city. Only in Barra can one see a smattering of buntings.

Empty and half empty stadiums are a norm. On the opening day on Friday, archery was the first event to be held. It was an individual and team elimination rounds, but not a fan was seen at the Sambodromo. Instead it was the volunteers, media and team officials of the respective teams who sat in the stands.

Most of the tickets are priced beyond the reach of the working class.

A few days ago, over 200,000 tickets were given away to underprivileged children to fill up some of the stadiums.

Another reason Brazilians are not interested in the Olympics is because the country is not a big power in sports, not like the United States or China.

At the 2012 London Olympics, Brazil only won three golds to take their overall gold tally in 22 Olympics to just 23 – a total China or the US could win in just one Games.

At these Games, it finally won its first gold here through judoka Rafaela Silva in the women’s 57kg on the third day of competition.

But basically, all Brazilians crave for only one gold – football. But looking at things here, Neymar and Co may not fulfill that dream again. They’ve drawn twice – against minnows Iraq and South Africa – and have yet to score a goal. 

2016 Rio Olympics - Soccer - Preliminary - Men's First Round - Group A Brazil v Iraq - Mane Garrincha Stadium - Brasilia, Brazil 07/08/2016. Neymar(BRA) of Brazil reacts at end of game against Iraq.  REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
Neymar reacts during the match against Iraq at the Mane Garrincha Stadium on Monday. - Reuters

And food at the stadiums is not cheap, either. A bottle of mineral water costs six Brazilian reals (about RM7) and a Coca-Cola 10 reals (RM13).

And souvenirs too are expensive. An official T-shirt costs 95 reals (RM121), the mascot Vinicius is sold at 115 reals (RM146).

Just outside Barra, someone air-sprayed the words: “Olympics is for the rich.”

It can’t be more true with Brazil now in their worst recession in decades.

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

Did you find this article insightful?


Across the site