The 2016 Rio Olympics has been plagued with challenges that show no signs of letting up. And, in the latest indications that little progress has been made to alleviate concerns — Rio de Janeiro’s acting governor said Monday that the Olympics could end up a “big failure” owing to a budget crunch that might weaken security and mobility during the games.
The games, which are due to start on Aug. 5, has organizers dealing with crisis after crisis like the health concerns over the Zika virus, a political scandal, increased crime rates and doping scandals. To top it off, acting Gov. Francisco Dornelles reportedly told Rio’s O Globo newspaper that the state had not received the funds it was promised to improve security and transportation for the games.
“I am optimistic about the games, but I have to show the reality. We can make a great Olympics, but if some steps are not taken, it can be a big failure,” he said.
Dornelles said in the interview that without the bailout money, the state could only afford to cover the expenses of the police force for a few more days eventually putting an end to the police patrol due to lack of gas money.
“The police fleet runs the risk of stopping. We managed to stretch the finances and we'll only last until the end of the week,” Dornelles said.
Rio de Janeiro declared a financial emergency earlier this month and requested for a federal bailout. The bailout, worth about $850 million, was approved by Brazil’s federal government. Reports say that the state's police officers have not been paid for overtime work for more than six months.
“How are people going to feel protected in a city without security?” Dornelles said.
The 81-year-old was thrust into the limelight after Gov. Luiz Fernando Pezao took medical leave after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma earlier this year. “I'd already decided to end my political career,” he said. He'd only accepted the offer to become Pezao's running mate because he thought he'd only have to take over “from time to time,” he added.
“And suddenly this bomb fell into my hands,” Dornelles said.
Rio de Janeiro is largely responsible for the Olympics and for certain expenditures such as the metro rail extension that will connect the Olympic facilities to the city center. Originally slated for completion late last year, reports said that officials now expect the line to be built a mere four days before the games begin.
Brazil has been struggling with its worst recession since the 1930s for months now. The country's economy, which is the largest in Latin America, shrank 5.4 percent in the first quarter of 2016, according to government figures.