2014 Olympics: Brazil can come out ahead

Bruno Reis – NY Times, 04/02/2012

Investments for large sporting events — like the World Cup and the Olympics — are enormous and require considerable effort from the host country. Generally, these investments are made by the local government, which increases the risks associated with hosting such events.

These investments can yield highly satisfactory legacies, as was the case with the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, which resulted in profound revitalization of the city and heavy investments in infrastructure, all paving the way for a boom in the region in the decades that followed. However, we also have examples of less desirable after effects, as seen in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, in which budget overruns and work delays burdened the state with unused structures and high maintenance costs. The spending for the Olympics may not be directly at fault for the country’s current economic crisis, but it certainly didn’t help. This is a typical example of investments outweighing the benefits and costs of hosting the event.

In this sense, Brazil needs to decide what legacy the Olympics and World Cup will leave. Will it repeat the success of Barcelona or the failure of Athens?

Read more…


Head of Amnesty International hears from Brazil slum residents who’ve been forced from homes

Juliana Barbassa – Canadian Press/The Associated Press, 4/27/2011

Secretary General of Amnesty International Salil Shetty, of India, right, and Priest Luiz Antonio Pereira, second from right, listen to residents who say their human rights are being violated by forced removals related to the upcoming Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday April 26, 2011. Shetty is in Brazil to meet survivors of human rights violations, representatives of indigenous communities, human rights activists and government officials to discuss the state of human rights in the country, especially as the country prepares to host the 2014 Soccer World Cup and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

The head of the human rights group Amnesty International met with slum residents in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday and commended them for resisting what they say is forcible removal from their homes.

Amnesty International is spearheading a campaign for adequate housing worldwide, said Salil Shetty, the group’s secretary-general. He said the organization plans to open an office in Brazil within six months to monitor the situation.

In October, representatives of Amnesty visited the Restinga shantytown, which lies in the path of a highway being built to ease traffic to neighbourhoods in western Rio where the 2016 Olympic Games will be held. About 150 homes would have to be razed to allow the road to be built.

Read more…