Ambiguous at Best: How Rio Organizers Are Responding to Uncertainty Surrounding the Olympic Games

Ph. Raphal Maeck/FEI
Ph. Raphael Maeck/FEI
Ph. Raphael Maeck/FEI

Whether you’re attending, participating, or simply planning to watch the Rio Olympic Games this August, it’s been impossible not to ponder the possible affect on the Games that host nation Brazil’s constantly shifting political, environmental, and urban climate could have. As global media outlets continue to follow the lead up to the Games amid the unrest of the country, it’s no surprise that questions on Rio’s preparedness keep arising.

We have been among that media, and this spring were prepared to publish a missive from a Brazilian journalist, an article that made statements calling into question the preparedness of Rio.

But after vetting the missive with a few select contacts, prior to publication, we were met with such a swift and sudden backlash that it caused this media outlet to do an about face, and seek out Rio 2016 organizers for further explanation.

Luiz Roberto Guigni, President of the Brazilian Equestrian Federation, facilitated the following conversation with Ataide Pereira, Rio 2016 Equestrian Sports Manager. While we thank them for their assistance, we will let you be the judge on if the following helps to lessen that air of uncertainty as the 2016 Rio Olympic Games edge ever closer:

Q: During the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the 2007 Pan American Games, Rio de Janeiro was able to successfully host these international sporting events without major problems.

However, Brazil is currently experiencing political crisis, with President Dilma Rouseff facing possible impeachment. Will this affect the running of the Olympic Games at all?
Most of the venues are ready. The Barra Olympic Park, the heart of the Games, is 98% complete. Now it is time to focus on fine-tuning the operation of the Games. So, we are beginning to deploy the venue teams, progressing the logistics operation, and furnishing the Olympic Village. There is still a lot work to do, but we are in a very good position and we are encouraged by a lot of support from the public.

Q: If President Rouseff is impeached or suspended during legal trial, Vice President Michel Temer will replace President Rouseff as Commander-in-Chief. With an economic crisis, a Zika epidemic and political discord, does the Organizing Committee of Rio 2016 have any concerns about the political climate present in Rio de Janeiro for visiting Olympic sports fans?
We are enjoying a high level of approval rating. Our nationwide approval rating is around 68%. The people appreciate that we have delivered the constructions on time, on budget and in total transparency and good governance. Brazil is living in challenging times, but what we see is that we will be able to organize excellent games and the people who come to Rio will have a great time.

Q: Deodoro is Rio’s second-largest Olympic cluster with nine venues being built at a cost of 800 million reais. Seven venues have already been completed, with the shooting and equestrian venues still under construction.

What is left to build for the equestrian facilities and is the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee concerned whether the equestrian facilities will be finished in time?
A: All the equestrian facilities are on track. We are finishing now all facilities that will be permanent (stables, vet clinic) and we are finalizing the training arenas. The main arena, covered arena and final holding area are ready. The cross-country footing is ready. (Ataide Pereira, Equestrian Sports Manager)

Q: The International News Agency Reuters reported in April that a federal court in Brazil blocked funding for the construction of an Olympic venue in the Olympic Deodoro complex on suspicion of corruption. According to Reuters, Police and prosecutors previously stated they suspect corruption in Olympic building projects because these projects were carried out by the same major construction and engineering firms that have already been charged with graft in the Petrobras case.

Will this block in funding or suspicion of corruption delay the construction of the equestrian facilities for the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro?
A: All the equestrian facilities are on track. We are finishing now all facilities that will be permanent (stables, vet clinic) and we are finalizing the training arenas. The main arena, covered arena and final holding area are ready. The cross country footing is ready.

Q: Glanders, the equine bacterial disease, known in Brazil as “MORMO”, is fatal and contagious in horses. In 2015 the Deodoro equestrian complex had suspected cases of MORMO. Is there any risk of MORMO now to horses arriving for the Olympic games in August?
A: The EQC area has been without horses for more than a year and we have implemented the strict biosafety controls as approved by MAPA and OIE.

Q: Is it true that the state of Brazil prohibits the entry of foreign food and medicine for horses? Does this mean that owners and riders of horses will have to source all food and medicine for their horses within Brazil during the Olympic Games?
A: The Equine Freight Manual has already been delivered containing all instructions and requirements for bringing food and medicines for horses into Brazil.

Q: With the Deodoro area of Rio de Janeiro being a highly military area, are there neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro that are suggested as ideal accommodation locations close to the Olympic Equestrian venues for the owners and affiliates for the equestrian events to stay during the 2016 Olympic Games?
A: Deodoro will be very well connected during the Games. The train station is just 800 meters away from the EQC’s entrance and the new Transolimpica BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) line will connect Deodoro to Barra. Besides, the Transbrasil BRT will link Deodoro to downtown Rio.