A Cidade Maravilhosa: Will the Olympic Games live up to Rio de Janeiro's nickname?

Wednesday Jun. 29, 2016

A Cidade Maravilhosa: Will the Olympic Games live up to Rio de Janeiro's nickname?

Rio de Janeiro’s nickname, the Marvelous City, is coming under fire as the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games approach. On June 17, Rio de Janeiro State Interim Governor Francisco Dornelles did the improbable: declared an economic state of emergency with just 49 days until opening ceremonies. Fearing a “total collapse” of the public security, transportation, health, and education infrastructure, Dornelles essentially filed for a state’s version of bankruptcy. To avoid possible strikes and protests that could disrupt the Games, the federal government was forced to step in and provide BRL 2.9 billion (USD 868 million) to the state.

As the Games draw nearer, many of the fears resonating globally are becoming a reality in Rio de Janeiro. Public security has significantly deteriorated since last year; the favelas (shantytowns) that are interspersed throughout the city in tandem with wealthy areas are experiencing an increase in violence as drug trafficking and criminal groups reclaim territory for their operations and increasingly carry out attacks on police patrols. The economic crisis has made effective policing of these areas more challenging; moreover, corruption among police forces remains a hurdle to eliminating violence.

So, what will the Olympics look like in Rio de Janeiro? Will the “Marvelous City” be very marvelous? As of now, it is most likely that the Games will occur with a lot left to be desired; rapidly constructed facilities will likely lack the finesse that is expected by top-notch, world class athletes, and visitors to the city will likely find it challenging to navigate the crowded metropolis while remaining vigilant of security threats.

For more detailed information, read the second installment of iJET’s Special Report on the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympics Games

On July 28 at 12:00 PM EDT, I will hold a webinar with the most recent information about the security situation in Rio de Janeiro, from where I will be reporting live during the Games. Be sure to register for this upcoming webinar where you will have the opportunity for live Q&A. 

Abbott Matthews is an Intelligence Analyst for the Americas Team at iJET International. Following her graduation from Colby College in 2013 with a BA in Latin American Studies and Government, she worked with the Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in Washington, D.C., a US government regional security organization that works closely with security and education partners in the Western Hemisphere. Abbott has spent time abroad in Spain, Uruguay, and Colombia for study and field research.

In 2014, Abbott moved to Brasilia, Brazil for a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Brasilia; in 2015, Fulbright selected her to continue working with university’s programs in addition to supporting new Fulbright Scholars in the country. In addition to Fulbright work, she also worked with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as a research assistant on regional security issues. As a regional expert, Abbott speaks Portuguese and Spanish fluently.


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