Budget Woes, Polluted Waterways Plague Rio Olympics

If athletes want air conditioning, they'll have to pay for it themselves
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2015 5:10 PM CST
Archers check the targets during the first day of the archery test event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.   (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
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(Newser) – As Brazil suffers through its worst recession in 25 years, organizers of the 2016 Olympics set to take place in Rio de Janeiro in August are cutting hundreds of millions of dollars out of their budget, Bloomberg Business reports. “It will be painful from now on,” Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada tells Bloomberg. And the athletes competing in the games will feel most of that pain. Cost-saving measures being considered include:

  • Making athletes pay for air conditioning in dorm rooms
  • Cutting back on stadium backdrops
  • Eliminating fancy cars and gourmet food for VIPs
  • Cutting back on cleaning services
  • Eliminating TVs in individual rooms
Two-time Olympic runner Nick Symmonds tells Bloomberg that such cuts will “cheapen the games.” Without adequate food and accommodations, he says, athletes won’t be able to compete at their highest level and “bring the A-plus product” spectators expect.

Further, Bloomberg notes some are concerned that cost-cutting measures will create an unbalanced playing field. Athletes from poor countries will be at a disadvantage because they cannot afford better accommodations, while those from wealthier countries can. NBA players on the USA Basketball team, for instance, opt for plush hotels as opposed to staying at the Olympic Village. Being short on money isn’t the only problem plaguing Rio 2016. Tests commissioned by the Associated Press found that Rio’s waterways are consistently high in viral counts, creating a risk for athletes competing in sailing, rowing, and canoeing events. "If we saw those levels here in the United States on beaches, officials would likely close those beaches," expert Kristina Mena tells the AP. (Read more Olympics stories.)

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