The Rio Olympics Danger We Aren’t Talking About

Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.
With the opening ceremonies for the 2016 Rio Olympics only a few weeks away, concerns are growing about Brazil’s level of preparedness for the games. The latest cause for worry? The Olympic Village, which will house the athletes, is less than halfway finished, according to The Guardian. Only 12 of the 31 buildings meant to house competitors have passed safety tests, with utilities like water, gas, and electricity only recently connected. A small fire is reported to have broken out in the building assigned to the Dutch athletes, while a technician worked on a fuse box. There were no injuries, but the incident highlighted potential risks of haphazard and incomplete construction. The remaining 19 buildings, which were finished behind schedule, are still waiting to go through stress tests designed to ensure their stability. Olympic organizers have promised to resolve problems by Thursday, but some of the teams who are already in Rio aren’t buying it. Australia has decided to relocate its athletes, at least temporarily, and the Dutch and Italian teams have complained about the facilities, which are reported to have broken elevators, mold, and even holes in the ceilings. The inadequate housing comes on top of concerns about shoddy workmanship in the competition venues, as well as health risks from both pollution in the water and Brazil’s growing Zika virus outbreak. In April, a seaside bike path built in advance of the Olympics collapsed, killing two people. And despite authorities’ claims that the continuing outbreak of Zika virus is a negligible worry, many health experts are still concerned about the Olympic Games’ potential to spread the virus beyond its localized area. It’s a worry shared by competitors and teams. Several athletes — as well as other attendees, such as NBC's Savannah Guthrie, who was expected to cover the games — have said that they are skipping this year's games due to fears of contagion. But Brazil wouldn’t be the first nation to pull off an Olympic Games by the skin of their teeth. The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, were plagued by similar problems and half-finished construction, which sometimes even had feral dogs wandering through the Olympic Village.

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