There’s flesh-eating bacteria in the water and alligators hanging out on the golf course.
A fatal horse disease that’s been used as a biological weapon was discovered near the Equestrian Centre.
Public security has been described as a ‘total improvisation’. And there’s no guarantee there’ll be any power.
So is this the Olympics or is Rio hosting the Hunger Games?
It’s not unusual at this stage of Olympic proceedings to hear about construction delays, budget overruns and bureaucratic stuff-ups.
But the stories coming out of Rio suggest next year’s Olympics may be more about survival of the fittest than faster, higher, stronger. Even the logo looks like a slingshot.
Most of the coverage has concerned the putrid waters of Guanabara Bay, which will host the sailing, rowing, canoeing and the swimming that’s not done in the pool.
Testing by Associated Press found athletes would basically be competing in an open toilet. No problem, said the organisers, the events are held way offshore. So Associated Press did some more testing and found conditions are just as bad a kilometre out.
“We’re talking about an extreme environment,” says waterborne viruses expert Kristina Mena. “The pollution is so high that exposure is imminent and the chance of infection very likely.”
Over at the Olympics golf course, alligators displaced by other Games construction have taken to hanging out in the water features.
International Golf Federation boss Anthony Scanlon isn’t providing a whole lot of assurances.
“We’ll have a strategy in place that will minimise any possibility of a player or spectator coming across these,” he says. “I don’t think we’re going to get a bite.”
Now I begin to understand Adam Scott’s apathy for Olympics golf.
Meanwhile, horses stabled near the equestrian centre were found to have contracted the fatal and contagious disease, glanders.
Glanders was apparently used as a biological weapon by the Germans in World War I, when they deliberately infected Russian horses on the Eastern Front.
But authorities promise there’s no risk to horses and riders in Rio. These are the same people who say the water’s fine.
Now a government auditor has warned of flaws in Brazil’s border security. It’s a border shared with 10 countries over 17,000 kilometres.
Not a problem, says Public Security Secretary Regina Miki. “The Olympics in Rio will be held in total security,” she says.
Independent security consultant Paulo Storani sees it differently. “Brazil’s public security plan for the Olympics is a total improvisation,” he told Associated Press.
And then we get to the cost cutting. Because the Brazilian economy is in the toilet. Or Guanabara Bay. Take your pick.
Brazil’s sovereign debt has been downgraded to junk status. Inflation’s at 10 per cent, unemployment’s giving it a run for its money.
To cap it off, the country’s president Dilma Rousseff is facing impeachment. Her approval rating is 8 per cent. She’s less popular than the flesh-eating bacteria in Guanabara Bay.
So Games spokesman Mario Andrada is looking to save some money. “The cutting hasn’t been painful so far, but it will be from now on because we need to finish the process,” he says.
Which means there’ll be no TVs in the athletes’ bedrooms. Book into a crummy caravan park in the back of Woop Woop and you’re guaranteed a telly. But if you’re an elite athlete competing for your country in the Olympic city, forget it.
Recently, organisers tried to nix the air-conditioning. But that proved a bridge too far, considering temperatures at that time of year can nudge 35C. The plan was reversed 24 hours later.
To top it all off, there’s no electricity contract in place. “We will have energy. Don’t get scared,” says Andrada. In other words, be afraid.
Happy Hunger Games. And may the odds be ever in your favour.