Rio de Janeiro: the World Cup, the Olympics and the Favelas
Earlier today, ESPN.com published an article by Wright Thompson in which the author exposes the social crisis that the organizers of the World Cup and the Summer Olympics are hoping to neglect.
Every big city in the world has two sides to show. Not even the Dubai municipality escapes this truth.
But it seems as if there are very few cities in the world where the division between the outcasts and that of the economically privileged citizens is more latent and entangled as in Rio de Janeiro.
The legendary beaches of Copacabana fill the pages of what Brazil wants the world to know about its largest city. White sand beaches and clear blue tropical waters at the disposal of the beautiful people lucky enough to bath under the sun; the perfect scenario for movie festivals, fashion shows and an epic Rolling Stones concert. The 2016 Olympic game planners have prepared an 19-page brochure describing the beauty and the prosperity that hosting the games will bring to the city. It mentions programs for educating the children, uplift the economy and even goes on with an eco-friendly clip about protecting the world’s largest urban forest.
Photos of pristine beaches, blueprints of new stadiums, and other modern facilities to host the fans and the athletes and the delegations, they are all there in the brochures. Not a single word about the favelas, about those dense urban slums that climb up into the steep hills of Rio. Not a word about those precarious communities that exist outside of civilized society. A little fewer than one thousand favelas flourish and decay in the hills of the city.
Their habitants are just a couple kilometers away from what many consider to be quite close to paradise, but they are mere spectators of the comedy, the luxury and the extravaganza of another Sin City. The decisions that are made in the city affects them directly, and yet they don’t seem to have any sort of participation, any voice.
The favelas, like Thompson points out, are the dirty conscience of Rio de Janeiro. It’s habitants are confined in an area without formal education, without the protection of police and no social services.
There are very few opportunities available in the favelas. Drug trafficking, prostitution and smuggling are two of the more lucrative outsources. This disparity is only mesmerized with violence. In 2010, Rio de Janeiro reported th 4,798 murders.
That’s about a fourth the number of murders annually in the entire United States. To put things into the right perspective, consider that there are 6 million citizens in Rio. The US population is about 300 million people.
So what does this means for the World Cup organizers? Again, like Thompson mentioned in his article, “Rio has less than three years to fix a crisis a century in the making.”
And there is no answer to the violence. The favelas, some just miles away from the legendary Maracana stadium, that will not only host World Cup games but be where the inaugural ceremony of the Olimpics take place, are run by drug lords and violent traffickers. The government has responded with military presence and the incursion of NAVY SEALS-like military personal and special police brigades on missions to kill drug traffickers. And much anything else that moves or dares to get in their way.
The favelas have been war zones. And nothing that has been done up to this point could prevent this two conflicting sides of the city to erupt just when the city hosts the two sporting events that call in the biggest audiences.
About the Author
Stephen Lars is a prominent sports blogger and currently covers the Sports news, previews and handicaps for the BetIAS’ Sports Betting Blog . You may reprint this article in its full content, please note no modifications to it are accepted.