Brazil is struggling to fulfil its Olympic promises

Athletes training for sailing and windsurfing events at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro recoil from the stench of the venue, Guanabara Bay, and dread putting a toe in the water.Tonnes of raw sewage regularly pour into the bay and all types of debris, including old furniture and dead animals, floats by.

City officials set a goal in 2009 of treating 80% of sewage by 2016, but today Rio’s government says it only treats about 40%. A top city official, in correspondence obtained by the Associated Press in May, acknowledges that Rio won’t make good on its commitment: at current investment rates, it could take more than a decade to significantly reduce levels of pollution in the bay.

The 2016 Olympics and Paralympics Organizing Committee, with the support of The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), has developed the Rio 2016 Sustainability Management Plan to tackle an agenda centered on nine issues including water treatment and conservation, use and management of renewable energy, games neutral in carbon, air quality and transport, and sustainable design and construction. Diversity and inclusion are part of the commitment to host “games for all”.

However, on the heels of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, city officials face criticism for spending huge sums on the two largest sporting events on the planet just two years apart, when many of its citizens continue to live without basic necessities.

From a human rights perspective, the redevelopment for the Olympic Games has meant eviction for thousands of the roughly 30,000 people living in the port area, site of the planned Olympic Park. Bidding on the project has been delayed by lawsuits brought by families who face eviction as a result of the work.

The government says the vast majority of residents displaced by the World Cup and Olympics developments are being moved out of dangerous and disaster-prone areas. Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International disagree, saying that Brazil is moving residents to areas where they are worse off and doing so without proper compensation.

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has raised concerns about Rio's ability to complete the necessary construction in time to host the games. In April, IOC vice-president John Coates called Brazil's preparations for the 2016 Rio games "the worst" in his experience, saying they were extremely behind schedule. He said: "The situation on the ground is critical. We have become very concerned."

This is part of a larger Sports Briefing, made of four parts and 24 pages - click here to see Part 1 on sustainability in international sporting events.

Brazil  olympics  Rio  sports briefing  sports events 

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