Rio de Janeiro, July 7 (IANS) With just a month to go, Rio de Janeiro is fully occupied with the preparations for the Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held for the first time in South America from August to September.
Besides a somewhat crippling interim government, the public has voiced concern about the delayed construction of sports venues, the under-budget security, the rampant Zika virus, as well as the pollution of water game locations, reports Xinhua.
Rio now is sparing no effort to finish the venues’ construction. Security is the top concern of the organisers.
Construction work at Rio’s Olympic Park has reached 99 per cent completion with five of the nine venues at the park being ready. Media facilities and the Olympic Park hotel are complete. However, some construction is still going on.
Labourers are still finishing work on the velodrome, a warm-up pool at the Maria Lenk Aquatic centre and two tennis courts and access ramps at the Olympic Arena.
However, security is an issue Rio worries about a lot.
A recent survey showed that security is the top concern of local people during the Olympics. As the state of Rio is currently facing a financial crisis, some policemen also protested over their unpaid salaries.
More than 5,00,000 tourists and over 10,000 athletes are expected to reach soon. To protect them from threats, a security force of 85,000 police and military staff will be deployed on the streets and at the venues, two times more than the London Olympics in 2012.
Amid the financial crisis, Brazil’s federal government has agreed to provide the state of Rio with $850 million in emergency funds to guarantee the security of the Olympic Games.
According to Alexandre de Moraes, Brazil Minister of Justice, with the emergency funds policemen in Rio will be paid their salaries and will also be provided with all facilities. However, due to robberies and other crimes, people coming to the city will have to pay special attention to their personal security.
Moraes said that intelligence sharing with other countries indicates that currently there is no possibility of terrorist attacks during the quadrennial extravaganza.
The Zika virus is also a cause of widespread concern. Organisers and medical authorities have said that Zika cases in Rio have dropped sharply in recent weeks and will fall to almost zero during the dry winter months of the Games.
The CEO of the Rio organising committee Sydney Levy said there were too many people outside Brazil talking about Zika with too many negative comments.
Another worry is about the water pollution in Rio. Outdoor water games will be held at Beach Copacabana, Lagoon Rodrigo de Freitas and Bay Guanabara. Rio’s ability to manage such locations for sports purposes is widely debated by the media as well as professionals.
Rio has “failed” in its promise to clean 80 percent of water pollution by the Olympics, but Sydney Levy said four of the five sites on the Guanabara Bay are tested daily for bacteria and will not pose any problems.
As the preparations reach the final stage, Rio’s mayor and Olympic organisers are refuting the negative reports.
Mayor Eduardo Paes said on Tuesday that improvements in Rio are on par with those credited with bringing huge urban renewal to Barcelona in 1992. “The Rio 2016 Games can also transform the city,” he said.
And organising committee head Carlos Nuzman said the fact that Rio was succeeding in such difficult circumstances showed the Olympics are not just for developed countries.
“I’m a firm defender of organising the Olympics on all continents, the poorest and the richest,” he said.