The Olympic Games are a global event drawing in tens of thousands of visitors and millions over television worldwide to cheer on their country. As technology advances, the Olympics become grander in scale with more elaborate infrastructure.
With scores of international visitors and a variety of cultures, how does this affect the people and communities where the Olympics are held? The 2016 Rio Olympics showed the major issues of hosting the games.
Overspending and papering over
Not only did the budget for the games overshoot the original amount, but the city also spent more on placing a bandage over poverty issues rather than fixing problems entirely. Those living in poverty became disconnected from commuting to beaches and other areas deemed “luxury.”
A wall constructed around a shanty town prevented tourists and Olympians from seeing the “real side” of Rio. A community of 600 families were forced from their homes as they were “too close” to the site of the Olympic Village.
Westernization of infrastructure
How else are the host city’s people affected by the Olympics? Since the modernization of the games back in 1896, Europe has seen the most games hosted on the continent. The games, coming from a westernized background, heavily affect the host cities that are forced to see the westernization of their infrastructure. The official Olympics website stated that the 2016 Rio Olympics generated more benefit than harm, citing:
Games-related projects generated thousands of jobs during one of the worst global recessions in more than 80 years, and economists expect continued economic benefits long after the Games.Official Olympics Website
While the IOC boasts the Olympics generate revenue, media coverage of the Rio games tells a different story. “The Guardian” has several stories on how the Rio games were a failure and did nothing beneficial for the city or the people. Forceful and violent evictions of lower-class citizens are highlighted the most.
One year before the games began, evictions loomed over communities as the city favored Olympic villages with no sight of poverty. This painted an elitist image of the Olympics and destroying lower-class communities in favor of westernization and tourism:
Part of [an] area is occupied by the Vila Autódromo community, a shanty town of fishermen and construction workers. Although the poor residents have legal ownership of their land, they are being pushed aside in the name of the Olympics.(Johnathan Watts with ‘The Guardian‘)
The IOC can claim positive economic boosts from hosting the Olympics in an area divided by poverty and corruption, but the media stories from one year, 100 days or the day before the event tell otherwise.
Communities were forced from their land and westernization took over. Even today, the buildings used for the Olympics still leave a scar on the land that was used for a handful of days. In fact, any large event originating from a western source is surely to have a massive impact on a city and people that have no choice but to host the event.