Monday, August 11, 2008

Brazil: Why Not Us for the 2016 Olympics?

Last year, when Rio de Janeiro successfully hosted the Pan-American games and FIFA awarded the 2014 World Cup tourney to Brazil, I privately guaranteed that Brazil would be making a push for the Olympics in 2016 or 2020, whichever they were eligible for (I'm not really familiar with or interested in exact timelines on Olympic decisions). I just thought that there would be no way that a country would go through all that work, building (or updating) state-of-the-art stadiums, fields, pools, and sporting facilities without an eye on the Olympics.

Well, it turns out that my hunch was right, as Brazil is making a push to host the 2016 Olympics. I see absolutely no reason why Brazil should not get it, and plenty of reasons why it should: the country has successfully proven that it can host a mass number of atheletes at excellent, modern facilities already in place; the flux of people from the World Cup is only going to be mildly less than the Olympics (and maybe more), and so Brazil will have the infrastructure and tourism abilities necessary; while summer in the northern hemisphere is winter in the southern, Rio's "winters" still witness highs in the low 80s and lows in the mid-60s, so it's not like the weather will be too extreme (and the air is certainly better than in China).

Most importantly to me from an ideological standpoint, the Olympic committee absolutely has no justification in keeping the Olympics restricted to Europe, North America, and Asia. As FIFA did, the Olympic committee has to recognize that the world is changing, and that there are many places that traditionally were considered "underedeveloped" to host the Olympics but that are more than capable. It's inexcusable that the only Olympiad ever held in Latin America was in Mexico 40 years ago, when the Olympics were marred by the Tlatelolco massacre right before the games began. Brazil is really emerging as a global power, and again, it's redundant, but there's absolutely no reason to believe it can't or shouldn't host the Olympics. Of course, people will suggest it's too violent, or not developed enough, or any number of other coded terms that really just get at issues of international racism and fear-mongering, but none of the arguments against Brazil is really legitimate or carries much weight, given how the Olympics have been held in China now, where air quality is miserable, the government is repressive, and somebody has already been killed during the Olympics. There's nothing inherently wrong with Chicago, Tokyo, or Madrid trying to get the 2016 Olympics, but if the Olympic committee gets past anachronistic standards for rewarding cities the Olympics, and gives it to Rio/Brazil in 2016.