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作者: 来源: 日期:2016/8/5 8:19:43

Hosting a games no panacea for hurdles of Olympian proportions





Most Olympics suffer a blitz of pre-games negative press. There were concerns over unfinished hotel rooms ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. A bungled security contract and overspending cast a cloud over the lead-up to the London Olympics in 2012.



But if there was a competition for the host city that could attract the most criticism, the 2016 summer games in Rio de Janeiro, which begin on Friday, would already have won gold.



The concerns have ranged from plumbing problems and a fire and theft in the Australian quarters of the athletes’ village, to the outbreak of the mosquito-born disease, Zika. There is also the chronic pollution in the city`s Guanabara Bay and its main lagoon, which will be used for water sports, including sailing and rowing.



The myriad problems have triggered questions about whether cities in the developing world, such as Rio, should be awarded the games in the first place. But the key issue is whether the International Olympic Committee, the games’ organising body, is prepared to do proper due diligence beforehand and not take the host’s promises at face value.



Brazil is the first emerging market democracy to hold the games. Unlike China, which hosted the Beijing Olympics in 2008, or Russia with Sochi, the Brazilian government could not autocratically impose order as it prepared for the games. Nor could it stifle criticism along the way.



The country`s social problems, such as inequality and crime, are visible warts-and-all. This can make for a messy lead-up to the games.



The second point is that Rio’s preparations are not as bad as the reports might suggest.



Most of the challenges the IOC and the Olympic teams are encountering in Brazil seem to come down to teething problems or shoddy final delivery.



The athletes’ village falls into this group. When the Australian team arrived last month to take up residence, the plumbing in their building was not working, provoking an outcry.



But few can argue that the athletes’ village is not on the whole an adequate facility — it will after all be sold as luxury apartments once the games have ended. It was built and completed months ago, resplendent with gardens and swimming pools. The problem was shabby final execution.



Other important facilities also seem to have been delivered on time, including the main sports venue, the Olympic Park.

包括主赛场奥林匹克公园(Olympic Park)在内,其他重要设施似乎也都得到了及时交付。


A more serious failure was Guanabara Bay, which has been perhaps the biggest target of criticism because of its high levels of pollution.



In its 2009 bid for the games, Rio promised to increase the amount of sewage that is collected and treated before flowing into the bay from 20 per cent to 80 per cent in time for the Olympics. But the authorities managed only 50 per cent and some independent studies have said the bay is still too toxic to be used at the games.



Here, however, the IOC must take part of the blame. A little due diligence would have revealed that the promise to clean up the bay was near impossible to keep.



The Guanabara Bay basin takes in sewage from more than half of the 12m people living in Rio de Janeiro`s greater metropolitan area. Many of these neighbourhoods are favelas, or slums, controlled by drug traffickers in which installing sewage infrastructure is a mammoth task.



The saga suggests the IOC should have followed the old maxim that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.



Even with all its failings, however, the Rio Olympics are likely to be a success. Brazil delivered a good 2014 World Cup in spite of similar concerns.



Like that event, there will be some embarrassing glitches as the games get under way, but little that cannot be smoothed over by improvisation and a bit of Brazilian hospitality.



The lesson for future games, particularly in developing world cities, will be to apply a stronger filter to a host city’s more extravagant promises. The Olympics cannot be a panacea. If a host city has a problem of Olympian proportions, such as that of the pollution in Guanabara Bay, then it is unlikely to be fixed just by holding the games.