Food For Thought – Rio and The World Cup

Another event that happens every 4 years is about to kick off. The World Cup, in less than 100 days Brazil will kick off the games against Croatia, that’s if the stadiums are completed on time. 

For those who are not informed, Brazil is a rising economic power within the global economic system and is the most powerful country in South America. Any county that hosts mega events such as the Olympics or World Cup are putting themselves in the global light and for the most part these types of events portray these countries in a positive manner. However, there are many, many things that most of us don’t know about. The behind the scenes. You don’t get to see local reactions or how the government and major investors have planned for the local people, and worst of all…the local people most greatly affected are usually the last to find out.

I’m not against these events what-so-ever, they are events that bring the global community together. It’s just that these types of events are far more complicated than they seem. In recent years the complications have been much more apparent, especially with the latest events that occurred promptly after the 2014 Winter Games. There was also controversy over the events held for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. What I’m trying to say with this post is that we need to be much more aware of what is happening. These events are economically beneficial for the few investors that spent a lot of time and money creating these events. The costs however, are much more extreme and greatly outweigh the benefits.

In the 2010 census, 6.3 million people in Rio lived/are still living in slums. A few of these slums were proposed as locations for World Cup and Olympic venues. Do you know what that means? It means, all those people living in the areas that will be demolished will be displaced. There are two major issues with this, 1. Where are all these people going to go? (How will they be subsidized, reimbursed etc.) and 2. Not only are people being relocated/displaced, their sense of community has been destroyed. Many of the people living in favelas (slums) have been living there for 3 decades/a few generations and due to the fact that they are poor, their house is the most valuable asset. Their homes are not just a roof over their heads, their homes are their livelihood. 

This topic is of real interest to me, and in one of my classes I wrote a final paper on Rio and hosting mega events. The thesis or theory I came up with about the mega events situation is that a country or a city hosting mega events such as the World Cup and Olympics is setting themselves up for disaster. In other words, hosting mega events contributes to social instability, because as mentioned previously these types of events benefit a few at the expense of many (Neoliberalism at its finest)

I realize I am one of few people who think this, because most of the people I know and are friends with, think that mega events such as these, are economically beneficial for these cities and the countries, but once againbeg to differ. The amount of money that gets invested and put into creating these venues is insane, and most of these venues hold a ridiculous number of people and will only be used for the duration of said mega event. I’m not just saying this will happen in Rio, because it’s a continuous pattern that has been evident in every host city. Even if the venues still get used, they will never reach capacity. Take Sydney for example, the stadium still gets used today for rugby games but the amount of people attending those games is only a small fraction of the entire capacity of the Olympic stadium. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is, how does all of this craziness effect the local people and the social situations of Rio and the surrounding cities? Also, how safe are all the tourists who travel from all over the world to watch this iconic event?

Here’s my opinion:
how does all of this craziness effect the local people and the social situations of Rio and the surrounding cities?
I think the local people have it worst of all. Last June, nearly 80 cities protested against the rise in bus fare prices, which caused the government to postpone the increase and with the mega events around the corner the government has recently increased the transportation fares. The poorest people in Rio rely on public transportation to get from the outskirts of the city to work, the commute is often long and tiring and the fares are already a large portion of their pay. Living costs are high and basic salary is low, and many residents of Rio already find it difficult to provide a sufficient amount of food for their families. The increase in public transportation fares will only perpetuate the ongoing social issues in Rio. AND that is only ONE of the many pressing issues that had contributed to the downward spiral of social sustainability in Rio.

Also, how safe are all the tourists who travel from all over the world to watch this iconic event?
With the removal of the term ‘favela’ off google maps, the increasingly unsustainable social situation in Rio, the safety of incoming tourists does not look bright. I just went on the Canadian Travel Advice and Advisory and looked up the security tab for Brazil and it goes on forever. Talking about the World Cup and transportation and basically indicating that violence and crime are high. [ http://travel.gc.ca/destinations/brazil ] This just gives you and idea of how careful travellers have to be in Brazil especially during this time. The instability of Rio’s current social state is a breeding ground for increased crime and violence. Tourists are easy targets.

These are just a few of my opinions about The World Cup in Rio and other mega events held around the world. Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions with me, I’d love to debate this topic if people have different opinions. I’m just so interested in this topic that I had to share.

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