Keep Your Mouth Closed: Aquatic Olympians Face a Toxic Stew in Rio

Andrew Jacobs – The New York Times, 07/27/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — Health experts in Brazil have a word of advice for the Olympic marathon swimmers, sailors and windsurfers competing in Rio de Janeiro’s picture-postcard waters next month: Keep your mouth closed.

Despite the government’s promises seven years ago to stem the waste thatfouls Rio’s expansive Guanabara Bay and the city’s fabled ocean beaches, officials acknowledge that their efforts to treat raw sewage and scoop up household garbage have fallen far short.

 In fact, environmentalists and scientists say Rio’s waters are much more contaminated than previously thought.

Rio mayor Eduardo Paes: ‘The Olympics are a missed opportunity for Brazil’

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 07/11/2016

The mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, believes crisis-hit Brazil has missed the opportunity of the Olympic Games to showcase itself on the global stage – but in an interview with the Guardian, strongly denied that Rio’s billion-dollar Olympic investment has ignored the poorer parts of his city.

Every host city faces controversy in the build-up to the mega-event, but a combination of recession, security breakdowns, the Zika epidemic, the Brazil president’s impeachment, budget cuts, infrastructure delays, environmental scares and complaints about displacement and gentrification have inflicted serious damage on the images of both Brazil and Rio.

“This is a missed opportunity,” Paes acknowledged. “We are not showcasing ourselves. With all these economic and political crises, with all these scandals, it is not the best moment to be in the eyes of the world. This is bad.”

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Brazil Police Raid Office of Olympic Site Building Consortium

Paul Kiernan – The Wall Street Journal, 06/07/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO—Brazil’s Federal Police raided the headquarters of a consortium of companies building one of the main 2016 Olympic centers on Tuesday, fueling concerns that malfeasance may have tainted Games-related construction projects.

Investigators say they have uncovered evidence of fraud and falsification of documents related to disposal of construction waste—mainly dirt— at Rio’s Deodoro sports complex. A federal judge has also frozen 128 million reais ($37 million) in federal funding from state bank Caixa Econômica Federal to pay for the project.

The consortium building Deodoro consists of Brazilian construction giants Queiroz Galvão and OAS SA, both of which have been implicated in a massive graft scandalsurrounding state oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras. Several executives from OAS have been sentenced to up to 16 years in prison for corruption-related offenses, and the company is in bankruptcy protection. Two executives of Queiroz Galvão, which is under investigation, were temporarily arrested in late 2014.

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Sepherd of the City’s rebirth, Rio’s mayor feels the strains, too

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 2/28/2014

IN his fits of rage, Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, has thrown a stapler at one aide. He threw an ashtray at another. He berated a councilwoman in her chambers, calling her a tramp. Stunning diners at a crowded Japanese restaurant where he was being taunted by one constituent, a singer in a rock band, he punched the man in the face.

While Mr. Paes, 44, has apologized to the targets of his wrath after each episode, he adds that he is under a lot of stress. Normally clocking 15-hour days as he tears up and rebuilds parts of Rio in the most far-reaching overhaul of the city in decades, Mr. Paes is finding that consensus over his plans is elusive.

“Don’t ever in your life do a World Cup and the Olympic Games at the same time,” Mr. Paes recently said at a debate here on Rio’s transformation, making at a stab at gallows humor over the street protests that have seized the city over the past year. “This will make your life almost impossible.”

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Fury and frustration in Brazil as fares rise and transport projects flounder

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 2/6/2014

At 5am every day, Paula Elaine Cardoso begins her long commute from the poor periphery of Rio de Janeiro to her care worker’s job in the upmarket resort of Copacabana.

After a walk to the bus stop, she has to wait about 40 minutes to get a seat, then – provided there is no breakdown or accident – she has a nearly two-hour ride in the traffic, usually without air conditioning and often in temperatures over 30C. Hot and tired by the time she reaches the subway station, she must then line up again for another jam-packed journey to her destination.

Most days, she gets in shortly before 9am, the 22 miles having taken close to three hours. It is the same story in the evening. By the time she gets home, usually long after dark, Cardoso has spent almost a quarter of her day, and a sizeable share of her income, on public transport.

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Tomorrow’s cities: Rio de Janeiro’s bid to become a smart city

Jane Wakefield – BBC News, 09/08/2013

Rio de Janeiro’s famously chaotic favelas are as much a landmark of the city as the Christ statue or Sugarloaf Mountain but few would see them as the natural home to smart technologies.

However, a remarkable project is under way that is already changing lives, and it is one of which the city government, keen to put Rio on the map as Latin America’s first smart city, should take note.

The project, co-ordinated by Unicef in collaboration with local non-government organisation CEDAPS (Centro de Promocao da Saude) has local teenagers digitally mapping five favelas in order to highlight some of the challenges for those living there.

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Rio mayor says it is “a shame” his city is hosting the Olympics

Hannah Strange – The Telegraph, 08/22/2013

Speaking after June riots that saw public fury at spending on sporting events spill out onto the streets of Rio and other cities, Eduardo Paes said: “It is a shame that Brazil is hosting the Olympic Games… We must handle the legacy of the Olympics in the city”.

He suggested that while the infrastructure being built in Rio would benefit the city, it was uncertain who would maintain and fund parts of it in the future.

“Rio will have to look after the legacy of infrastructure,” he said in an interview with sports channel ESPN to be broadcast on Friday. “But it’s unclear who will run the sports centres after the Olympics.”

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