Being a native of the Cidade Maravilhosa (wonderful city), but living most of my adult life in Australia, every time I come to Rio, I expect some changes.
Last time I was here Rio was successful in its bid to host the Olympic Games in 2016 and back then it was a cause for happiness and celebration. After all it seemed like an event of this grandeur would bring lots of benefits to this city of over 15 million people. But has it?
My analysis began when I arrived at Tom Jobim International airport (named after the composer of “The Girl from Ipanema”, one of the most recorded songs of all time) and saw the precarious condition of the main gate for tourists into Brazil. Since I left two years ago, the main stream media were announcing urgent renovations and upgrades to these facilities, but what I saw was a sad case of disregard and incompetence. Lots of talk but very little action! Everyone seemed excited about the prospects for the city, with countless benefits and prosperity, but I started to see things in a different perspective.
As I travel through the city I can see construction everywhere, expansion of the city metro, new buses and an atmosphere of change. I keep going and I enter into a shop to buy a snack. When I’m charged for what I ate, I got quite surprised with the prices of goods and food. I just paid for a little short black coffee the same amount of a beer. And I thought: What? Am I in the land of coffee and now I’m paying the same amount as I paid in Australia? It seemed very strange… from that point I started to wonder about the real benefits to Rio.
As far as I know an Olympic Games should be first and foremost for the enjoyment of the local people and after that, for all tourists coming to see the games. But I was terribly wrong. Brazil, one of the emerging nations of the world, is approaching the event in a different way. Everything for the “gringos” and whatever is left over, for the locals. Sad but true.
When I start to talk to friends about the cost of living, they tell me that Rio now is the 9th most expensive city in the whole world! It is hard to believe, but after a few days here I witnessed the reality. Prices sky rocketing and most things don’t seem to have the correct price to its value. Home rentals are absurdly expensive, petrol prices and services even more and nothing seem to have a justification to be that expensive. Weird… I never saw the place like that.
That’s when I questioned what real benefits this mega event will bring to the city. The main stream media announces all the goodies but they hide what is really going on. With the rampant corruption established in all levels of government (in 8 years US$ 67 billion was lost) looks like the benefits will be just for a selected group of people, while the rest of the population will keep working like dogs for the entertainment of the world.
It seems wrong and unfair, but it is my impression at this point in time. I will be here for at least 3 more weeks and I hope I will be able to change my mind, but I will not be holding my breath…
So far my thoughts are if mega events like the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup in 2014 cannot bring real benefits for the local communities, I question the main reasons behind all the fuss.
Who really benefits?
Let’s see if I will be able to change my mind before my return to Australia…
for green events