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Brazil’s Olympic Catastrophe

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nytimes articleThe following is an excerpt from Vanessa Barabara | July 1, 2016 | Nytimes.com |

RIO DE JANEIRO — IT’S official: The Olympic Games in Rio are an unnatural disaster.

On June 17, fewer than 50 days before the start of the Games, the state of Rio de Janeiro declared a “state of public calamity.” A financial crisis is preventing the state from honoring its commitments to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the governor said. That crisis is so severe, he said, it could eventually bring about “a total collapse in public security, health, education, mobility and environmental management.” The authorities are now authorized to ration essential public services and the state is eligible for emergency funds from the federal government.

Measures like these are usually taken for an earthquake or a flood. But the Olympics are a man-made, foreseeable, preventable catastrophe.

I went to Rio recently to see how preparations for the Games are going. Spoiler: not well. The city is a huge construction site. Bricks and pipes are piled everywhere; a few workers lazily push wheelbarrows as if the Games were scheduled for 2017. Nobody knows what the construction sites will become, not even the people working on them: “It’s for the Olympics” was the unanimous reply, followed by speculation about “tents for the judging panels of volleyball or soccer, I guess.”

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