Sunday marks the end of the 2016 Olympic games in Brazil. What will Rio be left with come Monday, once all the officials, athletes, and press leave?
The journey to the 2016 Olympics was marked by problems, and as recently as July, many questioned whether or not the games would happen at all. Crises, construction issues, local tension, and many unreached goals speckled headlines leading up to the Olympic games. Violent crime soared due to financial turmoil, with a 42 percent jump in street robberies in May, and financial catastrophe increased hardships across the state.
Water treatment went only partially completed, and a consultant who was tough on corruption and working to finish the treatment was murdered last fall. Rio’s Guanbara Bay and Copacabana Beach, which both featured events for the Olympics, are filled with human excrement, garbage, and dangerous bacteria. This April, a seaside bike path collapsed into the sea due to poor construction.
Not all Olympic Village buildings passed health and safety checks, and the torch-bearing route for the Opening Ceremony was heavily protested. Pictures highlight the disparity of conditions between the greater Rio area and where the Olympics are being hosted. Traffic jams piled up throughout the city because highways are being used as express bus lines for athletes and visitors, forcing Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes to announce multiple city-wide holidays to try and ease street congestion.
Despite the city deploying 85,000 security personnel, including 23,000 soldiers on patrol, the city's class divide has been exacerbated by the huge influx of tourists, creating an atmosphere of tension that leads to increased crime. Residents are left wondering what will happen once these armed forces disappear. Those living and staying outside of the upscale neighborhoods along the coast say the added security hasn't had a positive effect on crime, and that conditions are even worse in favelas, where security engages in gun battles with gangs.
Signs held by police officers and firemen who protested delays in pay leading up to the games read, "Welcome to Hell." After declaring a "state of calamity," Rio was granted an $850 million bailout package by the Brazilian government to keep essential services running and salaries paid during the Olympic games.
Paes promised the games would be a catalyst to change Rio's fortunes. The city has planned to repurpose venue materials to help build schools, public parks and pools, and a high school dormitory, but it remains to be seen if the financially stretched state will be able to follow through. Billions of dollars were poured into constructing a subway line that's being critiqued as only benefiting wealthy parts of the city, and millions were spent on programs to "pacify" poorer residents.
After the Olympic games, Rio will be left with financial ruin and increased violence. The poorest areas of the city—marginalized by class and race—are crushed under the weight of prioritizing such a massive event before its local citizens. The games were touted as a panacea to all issues dogging Rio, and though the city has tried to clean up both violence and the raw sewage floating in its scenic bay, promises thus far have remained unfulfilled.