There are many varied opinions on the Olympics, some positive, some not so positive. This sample expository essay from the professional writers at Ultius will attempt to explore the divide between the common people of Brazil, and the will of the rich, the corrupt, and the IOC. Hopefully aside from enjoying the read, you’ll discover some tips to help you improve your own writing
At the time of this blog’s publishing, the 2016 Olympic Games will have commenced in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and will end on Sunday, August 21st. Brazil, now the 5th largest country in the world must be ready to host the crowds, the athletes, and the spectators from its country and all over the world for this year’s summer Olympics (Olympics, “Rio 2016”; Geohive). Despite the country’s initial excitement about hosting the Olympics, it’s a big job, and one that requires vast resource expenditures, security measures, and personnel to provide everything the athletes and fans need to enjoy their time at the Olympic Games. Brazil has many resources at its disposal, but it has also been plagued with issues over the past few years as it prepared for the Olympic games – these issues include:
- Portions of the population do not want the games to be held in Brazil
- The onslaught of the deadly Zika virus
- Sanitation problems
- Political instability
- Economic crisis
- Racial inequality
There are also other tensions that are making it more difficult to hold the games than there might have been otherwise. Despite these issues, a recent NPR interview with correspondent Lulu Garcia-Navarro revealed that the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) President Thomas Bach believes that the Olympic Games “Will be great” (Garcia-Navarro).
A brief history of the olympic games
According to the Olympic website and historical records, the original Olympic Games were held in 776 B.C.E. (Olympics, “History”). The Games were staged on the plains of Olympia on the western portion of the island of Pelops, and dedicated to the Olympian Greek and Roman gods (Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Athena, Artemis, Apollo, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Ares, and Hermes, and their Roman counterparts) (Olympics, “History”). The Games went on for almost 12 centuries until they were banned as “pagan cults” by Emperor Theodosius in 393 B.C.E. The Olympic Games were linked to the cult of Zeus and religious festivals, but were quite secular and meant to show the physical prowess of their participants (Olympics, “History”).
Originally, only men were allowed to compete in the Olympics, and married women were not allowed to watch the games for fear that the dazzling abilities and fit bodies that caroused in front of them might lead the women astray from their husbands (Olympics, “The Athlete”). Some of the most famous ancient Olympians were Astylos and Milon of Croton, Leonidas of Rhodes (a famed runner), Melankomas of Caria (a boxing champion), and Kyniska of Sparta, the first woman who won an Olympic victory (she drove a four-horse chariot) (Olympics, “The Athlete”).
The Olympics were originally a one-day event, until 684 B.C.E. when they were extended to a three-day event and extended again in the 5th century B.C.E., where they were made into a five-day event. Competitions included running, the long jump, shot put, javelin, boxing, pankration (an early form of mixed martial arts combining boxing and wrestling), and equestrian events (Olympics, “The Sports Events”). Being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this year are the Summer Olympics, which include sports like running, boxing, swimming, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, diving, and wrestling, to name a few (Olympics, “Sports”).
The history of Brazil: A snapshot
Brazil has been occupied by varied communities of people for at least 8,000 years. The first people that we know of in Brazil were nomadic and semi-nomadic, and are believed to have come from Asia across the Bering Strait or the Pacific Ocean in search of additional hunting grounds (Brazil). The Portuguese called the 2,000 or so resident Brazilians “Indians” when they arrived in the 16th century (much like the Native Americans in the U.S.), and soon discovered that Brazilians fought each other for the valuable red dye from the brazilwood trees, and practiced cannibalism. (Brazil). Portuguese blood was mingled with Brazilian blood almost immediately, which resulted in the rich mix of cultural ancestry and lineage that is a hallmark of Brazil’s population today (Brazil).
As we now know, the diseases the Portuguese brought with them to Brazil and the New World killed entire tribes as they swept across the country, killing thousands of Brazilians (Brazil). The population of indigenous Brazilians alive today is estimated at 200,000, mostly living in the jungles of Brazil.The population of Brazil originally consisted of agricultural settlements and semi-nomadic people who eventually became urbanized, but the people largely had never documented their history or constructed large buildings which would be ruins today (Brazil).
Brazilian imports and exports
Gold was discovered in Brazil in the 1690s, but ran out within a century, leaving the country as only an agricultural resource for conquering Portuguese men like Dom Joao. Joao’s son, Pedro, led the revolt against Portugal in 1821, which resulted in Brazilian independence (Brazil). Due to an economic crisis in Portugal, many Portuguese people fled to South America to seek their fortunes, settling along the shoreline for abundant seafood and convenient transportation routes (Brazil). Many, Africans were brought to Brazil as slaves. Coffee and sugar became Brazil’s most prominent exports into the world economy. Today, Brazil is a democracy that recently held an impeachment trial for its female president, Dilma Rousseff (she claims the trial was illegal and has since filed an impeachment trial against the congressman who impeached her) (The New York Times). Brazil’s economy has been sluggish for decades, and crime and violence are at all-time highs in the country. It’s no wonder that Brazilians don’t want to deal with the Olympic Games while the country is having so many internal issues.
Why don’t Brazilians want the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Brazil?
Back in 2013, Simon Jenkins of the Guardian reported on a demonstration by Brazilians in Parliament Square in Rio de Janeiro. The point of the protest was that the Olympics were a waste of money. The protestors are angry that they have third-world schools, exorbitant bus fares, and an insurmountable amount of health and welfare claims. Meanwhile, the country spent billions on the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which was rocked by corruption scandals, and now on the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Jenkins noted that the “purpose-built stadiums, luxurious facilities, lunatic security, and lavish hospitality are senseless” and caused bankruptcy in Montreal and Athens. Following the 2014 World Cup, 250,000 Brazilians protested against the Games, after the country’s prosperity continued to decline over an eight-year period (Barbassa). Unemployment, corruption in government, inflation, and low investments ratings are ravaging the country. The same article in the Guardian quotes a teacher in Rio de Janeiro, stating, “In our health system, we are treated like wild animals…don’t even talk to me about education. They think we are all stupid.” Brazilians want racial equality, safety, decent healthcare and a good economy without a corrupt government, and they are willing to fight for it, even if that means impeaching members of the ruling political party.
How is the Zika virus affecting the 2016 Olympic Games?
The Zika virus continues to ravage Brazil, and is spreading to other countries. Several athletes have withdrawn from the Olympic Games for fear of contracting the virus and bringing it home to their loved ones (Harrison). Despite years of training, the mosquito-borne virus that causes microcephaly in infants of infected mothers has led to the withdrawal of athletes such as John Isner (U.S.), Bernard Tomic (Australia), and Feliciano Lopez (Spain). Stephen Curry and LeBron James are among the prominent U.S. basketball players who withdrew from the U.S. team for the 2016 Olympics. Tejay van Garderen withdrew to keep his pregnant wife from contracting the virus (Harrison). At least three athletes cited the Zika virus as a concern, while others gave no reason for their withdrawal (Harrison). As of June 8th, there were a total of 1,996 cases of Zika virus in the United States and its territories, and the virus reached Brazil from Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands in May of 2015. To date, over 1046 cases have been reported in Brazil (a staggering 6,480 are suspected by WHO), and more than 2500 babies have been born with microcephaly there. (WHO; Sun). The fear of potential Olympic athletes is substantiated in these statistics, and no one can blame them for withdrawing from the Olympics.
Brazil’s sanitation issues prior to the 2016 Olympic Games?
Like Africa, clean, fresh drinking water is difficult to find for Brazil’s poor, even though Brazil is “viewed as a pro-ecology country.” Yet, according to Pinheiro Machado of Forbes, yet only 46.8 percent of the country’s people have sewage services and only 62.9 percent of that sewage is treated – leaving 70.56 percent of the country’s sewage untreated. Brazil is not a small country, and contains some 200 million inhabitants – just imagine the amount of sewage such a large population generates; it’s not a pleasant picture. Brazil’s World Bank sanitation rating in 2015 was 112th, and 22 municipalities in Rio de Janeiro State have no sewage collection (Pinheiro Machado). Even in Rio de Janeiro city and São Paulo, up to 25% of sewage goes untreated. Health issues like stomach infections are rampant in Brazil, and over $5 billion has been invested to improve sanitation for 15 million people, but some say it is only a quick fix ahead of the Olympic Games, and that the amount invested is nowhere near what it needs to be to sustain the health and cleanliness of the world’s fifth largest country (Pinheiro Machado).
Brazil’s Water and Sanitation Source: Global Water Partnership
See where Brazil’s water and sanitation falls – by the numbers.
|82.8:||Percent of the Brazilian population with access to improved sanitation facilities. (102nd worldwide.)|
|20 Million:||The number of Brazilians with no access to safe drinking water or sanitation facilities.|
|28%:||Amount of the rural Brazilian population connected to a drinking water supply.|
|22:||Percentage of rural Brazilians connected to a safe drinking water supply.|
The 2016 Olympic Games and Brazilian political instability
Just as Guatemala’s president was forced to resign last year due to fraud and corruption charges, Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff was suspended from the office. She is currently being investigated for charges that she “illegally manipulated government accounts” (BBC). Rousseff denies the charges, but will remain in suspension during the impeachment trial while Michel Temer (Brazil’s vice-president) serves in the interim (BBC). This term is Rousseff’s second in Brazil, and she was re-elected in October of 2014. A recession, and the Petrobras oil company scandal in recent months has left public opinion of Rousseff at an all-time low. Operation Car Wash, the investigation into her affairs, has implicated people in both Rousseff’s party and opponents’ parties (BBC). Those who support Rousseff believe that the government is attempting a coup to remove the Workers’ Party from office in Brazil. At least two corruption scandals have rocked the party, including the Petrobras scandal which involved overcharging of the state-run oil company by construction firms. The extra money was intended to be paid to Petrobras execs and politicians as kickbacks (BBC). In the Mensalao scandal, public funds were used to pay Congress members illegally for backing selected crucial votes. These scandals have left the ruling parties of Brazil deeply divided (BBC).
The effect of Brazil’s economy on the 2016 Olympic Games
According to the Economist, Brazil’s economy is worse today than it was in the 1930’s, or possibly at any time ever. The GDP has gone down by 5.4% in the past year. Unemployment is almost at 12%, increasing from 7 million unemployed to 11 million in just two years. Street crime and poverty run rampant in the country. Acting president Temer’s economic program aims to slash public spending and an “unaffordable pension system,” encourage oil and gas enterprises, and hopefully reform ancient labor laws and tax codes to improve Brazil’s weak economic system. Under Temer’s plan, education, health, and all other public spending will be frozen – it is unknown what impact this might have on the country’s Zika epidemic, however. Public spending has grown “much faster than the GDP” in Brazil over the past 20 years, which has caused a government deficit and high interest rates, which keep the deficit high into the future (The Economist).
The proposed spending cap might lower interest rates and force government reforms in other areas. Brazil sits in last place out of 61 countries surveyed as far as the strength of its economy – including Ukraine’s struggle for democracy and the bankrupt Venezuela.
Ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games, Brazil must make sure its facilities are up to par and safe for both fans and athletes alike – a tough task when the economy is in such turmoil. As this sample essay from Ultius points out, morale in Brazil does not seem to have been lifted by the Olympics. Yet, despite the economic state, Brazilians are still proud of their country and the running of the Olympic torch is a prime example. The Olympic Games are coming whether Brazil is ready or not – and regardless if Brazilians and the troubled government want them to. It remains to be seen whether or not the games will help Brazil’s economy and thereby help its people through one of the hardest times in the history of this proud nation.
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