By the Blouin News World staff

Brazil insists Rio ready for Olympics

by in Americas.

Rio 2016 Olympic logo. (Source: Phil Guest/flickr)

Rio 2016 Olympic logo. (Source: Phil Guest/flickr)

by Erin Wright

The insistence by Brazil’s top sports official on Tuesday that all systems are go for this summer’s Rio Olympics appears to be little more than world-class wishful thinking.

Exhibit one: The Zika virus has prompted athletes from all over to admit they are considering boycotting the Games, with at least one U.S. cyclist already bowing out.

Exhibit two: Dozens of health experts signed an open letter sent to World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan, pleading for the Games to be moved to another country.

Exhibit three: Last month’s suspension of President Dilma Rousseff, pending an impeachment trial, has opened the door to egregious behavior by her opponents, begging the question: Who exactly is running the country during this health emergency?

Exhibit four: Less than two months to go until the scheduled opening ceremonies, a number of Olympic venues remain nowhere close to finished.

Yet Sports Minister Leonardo Piccini, appointed by interim President Michel Temer just last month, was quick to wave off such concerns while claiming that preparations are proceeding “seamlessly” and that the government stands ready and able to swat away all challenges posed by Zika.

In reality, he needn’t have bothered. For one can hardly imagine anything he could say to counter the gnawing realization that Brazil’s political elite – having invested great quantities of time and money in the midst of a recession – has no intention of disinviting the rest of the globe to what it considers a rare opportunity to shine on the world stage and to hopefully jump-start a desperately needed economic turnaround.

All evidence points to there being little chance that the Games will be yanked from Rio de Janeiro at this late date. And Piccini’s efforts, transparent though they may be to outsiders, will no doubt still draw thunderous applause from his superiors.