Pol­i­tics over­shad­ows Rio prepa­ra­tions

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

Brazil’s eco­nomic and political cri­sis has rel­e­gated Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic prepa­ra­tions to an af­ter­thought with South Amer­ica’s first games just over four months away.

Rio’s Olympics are be­ing side­lined by an even big­ger show: Brazil­ian Pres­i­dent Dilma Rouss­eff’s fight against im­peach­ment with mil­lions on the streets march­ing against her. All of this amid mul­ti­ple cor­rup­tion scan­dals with the coun­try mired in the worst eco­nomic re­ces­sion since the 1930s.

“If this was five years ago, we could have even lost the games,” or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee spokesman Mario An­drada told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “I have never ex­pe­ri­enced such political tur­moil in my life. If you ask me what’s next, I don’t have a clue.”

Brazil’s lead­ers were hop­ing at­ten­tion from the Olympics - and the 2014 World Cup - would bur­nish the coun­try’s im­age. In­stead, they may have done the op­po­site with the omi­nous im­peach­ment get­ting in­tense cov­er­age, high­light­ing graft tri­als, en­demic cor­rup­tion and a sharp fall in the value of coun­try’s cur­rency.

Ear­lier this month an es­ti­mated 3 mil­lion peo­ple took to the streets across Brazil in an­tiRouss­eff demon­stra­tions. Add to that, long de­lays in pre­par­ing for the Games and the signs are wor­ry­ing.

The city of Rio has re­scinded con­tracts on at least two Olympic venues - the ten­nis and eques­trian cen­tres - and de­lays have been re­ported on at least four other projects. The city says about 95 per cent of the build­ing work is done and venues will be de­liv­ered in time.

It was dif­fer­ent in 2009 when Rio was awarded the games, cham­pi­oned by then-Pres­i­dent Luiz Ina­cio Lula da Silva. He called it a “sa­cred day”.

The prom­ises now seem hol­low, and so does the leg­endary da Silva.

A few weeks ago he was hauled in for po­lice ques­tion­ing in a graft and money-laun­der­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Last week Rouss­eff named him her chief of staff, which would grant him some le­gal im­mu­nity - an ap­point­ment sub­se­quently blocked by a court rul­ing.

It’s pos­si­ble that Rouss­eff will be out as pres­i­dent when the Games open on Au­gust 5, which may leave the cer­e­mo­nial open­ing of the Games to vice pres­i­dent Michel Te­mer.

MOVE­MENT: Anti-Rous­eff pro­test­ers call for the Brazil­ian

pres­i­dent’s im­peach­ment

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