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Rio Olympics: The controversial road to the Summer games

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We are a few days from the Rio Olympics. There will be 207 countries from the United States to Great Britain to Finland who will participate in various events in Rio de Janiero. The Olympics as a whole have been around for hundreds of years, with the first one dating back to the Ancient Greeks who are credited with inventing the concept. Until 1992, the Winter and Summer Olympics were being held the same year but due to a decision made in 1986 by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to place the Summer and Winter games on separate four-year cycles in alternating even-numbered years. As long as I can remember, you don’t hear about anything going on until about a week before the start of the events.

A ton of controversy has surrounded the build up to the games in Rio that get started with the opening ceremonies this Friday night. One of the more recent controversial matters to affect the Olympics was a Doping scandal that broke out in Russia. This was first brought up by the mainstream media in December of 2014 when German broadcaster ARD was reporting on state-sponsored doping in Russia. During the story, the reporter went on to compare what was happening in Russia to the doping scandal that was going on in East Germany for many years.

Around after a year of this scandal being brought to the forefront, in November of 2015, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) would go on and suspend Russia indefinitely from word sports events due to the doping. When this came down, some people were figuring that Russia would not be allowed to participate in the upcoming Summer Games in Rio. However a few weeks ago, the International Olympic Committee would reject the WADA’s recommendation to ban Russia from the Olympics and would go on to say that it was up to each sport to decide what they wanted to do with Russia.

According to the BBC, there are different levels of bans facing Russia for the Olympics. Weightlifting and Athletics are the two sports that Russia is prohibited from completely. Swimming, Cycling, Rowing, Wrestling are some games where Russia is partially banned from participating. Boxing, Golf, Gymnastics, Taekwondo have yet to decide what they are doing with Russia. All the other sports that include tennis, archery, judo, and table tennis are not banning Russia at all.

Another problem that has faced Rio in the weeks and months leading up to the Summer Games is the Zika virus that became noticeable in August of 2014. According to the CDC, the Zika Virus is spread mostly by the bite of an infected mosquito. As of this moment, there is no known vaccines or medications for this virus. Due to this illness that has plagued South America, it has forced many Olympic athletes and media members to make major decisions about whether or not they want to go to Rio.

This has caused many athletes such as Rory McIloy, Dustin Johnson, and others to decide to stay home rather than risk their health to compete for the gold. Some athletes are choosing to participate in the Olympics who are freezing their sperm. An example of this is  British long jumper Greg Rutherford, who is taking the extra precaution of freezing his sperm before the games. However, Brazilian authorities have maintained that there is almost zero risk of an infection. There have also been reports of several members of the media who have decided on whether or not they decide to go to Rio.

Other issues that have faced the Brazilian authority include dealing with a ton of protesters who feel that the Brazilian government is corrupt and is spending money on non-essential projects such as the 2014 World Cup and the upcoming Olympics. Another issue that was facing Rio was according to an AP investigation; they found a dangerous amount of human sewage.

On February 8, 2016; the United States Olympic Committee would begin to advise many of its athletes to consider skipping the 2016 Games if they were concerned about the Zika Virus. Donald Anthony, who is the President and Board chairman of USA Fencing said, “No One should go if they feel at all as though that the threat could impact them.” I find this interesting because the Brazilian Government has gone record to maintain that there is little reason to be scared. The last time where countries were considering boycotting the Olympics, you need to go back to the 1984 Summer Olympics.

In response to the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, Russia. There were 14 Eastern countries including Libya , Iran, Soviet Union, Cuba and East Germany boycotted the games. The only country that attended from this area was Romania.

The most recent bit of controversy to happen as the preparations for the Summer Games as on July 31 the Australian athletes were forced out of their lodging in Olympic Village by a fire. However it was not because of the fire alarms, it was later found out those were deactivated. To make the situation worse, when they returned to their rooms, many of their belongings, including laptops, have been stolen.

Overall, the road to the beginning of the Summer Games has been horrible. There have been many people who have said they are honestly surprised that Rio can even still host the games. With how much headache there has been leading up to these games, I would be honestly surprised if Rio will get the Olympics ever again. I am aware that every country wants to host the games and that it does wonders for the countries economy and tourism. With that being said, if a country does not have the ability to host the games for one reason or another then they should not host the games. The Summer Olympics get started on August 5th with the opening ceremonies and goes until August 21st.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com