Olympic Games 2016 Rio and Perth

Olympic Games successes and failures surround us. Turn on any television news, open any newspaper, and be confronted with story after story about Rio de Janerio. Even if you wanted to, it would be difficult to ignore this spectacle. Gold medals. Bronze medals. Lists of which country has won  medals so far. Our heads reel.

Rio de Janerio

Rio de Janerio

Stunning natural beauty surrounds this city. On a hill high above it stands the spectacular statue of Christ the Redeemer.

Australians take pride in their swimmers and other competitors But dig deeper into these Games and find tragic stories. Previous drug misdemeanours throw a suspicious glow over some teams.

A British Judo champion falls to the ground in tears behind a rubbish bin after being knocked out of the events.

Two days ago, knife-wielding crooks robbed a couple of Australian coaches. That’s in spite of the alleged presence of 85,000 security guards. That’s twice as many as in London four years ago.

The major focus of this heavily armed police force, however, is not to protect the tourists. .As Antonio Castillo, writing in Eureka Street this morning, points out,

It is a police force armed to the teeth with a single-minded mission to repress just about anybody that embarrasses the Games, be they the thousands of teachers, doctors, firefighters and public servants demanding unpaid salaries; the poor coming down from the favelas, the beggars, the homeless; or the street sellers and the sex workers that have descended into Rio…

Things have gone very wrong in Rio since the city was awarded the Olympic Games. Financial disaster, corruption and political upheaval have caused havoc.

In preparation for the Games, around 77,000 residents of some the city’s slums have been evicted. Their settlements have been bulldozed. The city has built ten-metre long, three-metre high walls around other slums to hide the poor from visitors. The cost has been US $17.6 million.

Antonio Castillo says,

The Rio 2016 Olympics has already earned a well-deserved label — the jogos da excludad, the games of exclusion. It is a label — carved in banners and street graffiti — that shames a ruling class that got its priorities wrong.

 

Olympic Games in Perth

In a church hall on the edge of the Central Business District of Perth, Western Australia, the irony of homelessness was overlooked by everyone last Tuesday.

Instead of the usual rehearsal, the Spirit of the Streets Choir celebrated the Rio Olympic Games 2016 with an international concert. It was an opportunity to party. Members had decorated the hall with the flags of competing countries. Flamboyant notice-boards displayed relevant information about those countries.

Singers and other performers, some in national dress, took to the microphone to display individual talents. The only rule was that the songs and dances must represent a country.

Celebrating the Olympic Games

Celebrating the Olympic Games

New Zealand shows the way

New Zealand shows the way

Singing 'I Love a Sunburnt Country'

Singing ‘I Love a Sunburnt Country’

The Spirit of the Streets Choir celebrates its tenth anniversary next year. Choirmaster Bernard Carney and vendors of the Big Issue Magazine initiated the choir. Others, often homeless or unemployed, soon joined. Current members represent all walks of life. The name, ‘The Spirit of the Streets Choir’, reflects the diversity of the group.

I would like to boycott the Games in solidarity with the homeless of the world, but  the chances that I will manage that are slim.

I’d love to read your comments on these or future Olympic Games.

6 thoughts on “Olympic Games 2016 Rio and Perth

  1. Well we’ve been sleeping in our caravan in Byford for the last two nights. Very busy days, falling into bed not quite exhausted, but pretty tired so we hardly know anything of the games!
    It’s very sad that people have been left homeless after their homes were bulldozed – saw that story unfolding a while ago.
    Let’s hope everyone is safe and the authorities are excellent with their intelligence gathering and have the right procedures in place to counteract terrorist activity!
    Love your photo Maureen – your new job certainly agrees with you and gives you and John so much happiness. Xx

    • I thought you would be following the games full-on, Elizabeth. What are you doing so far from home this cold weather? Hope you are nice and warm. When do you go home? You have an interesting life with your caravan.

      The games seem very scary this time round with the unease in Rio itself and the threat of possible terrorism attacks. Not much fun for anyone.

      Yes my job is good for me, and John is enjoying it, as well. Loving the interaction with the people in the Choir and the singing, too.

  2. I remember hearing they did the same for the Barcelona Olympics—moved the homeless out of sight. I suspect it happens every Olympics, so the host city appears beautiful for the incoming tourists. It’s terribly unfair and sad, and not in keeping with their religion.

    • Authorities in all developing countries probably do feel they need to clean up their cities before major events like the Olympics, Louise. Poverty is a sign that they are not doing very well. I keep thinking that 77,000 people is about the number that can fit in the Melbourne Cricket Ground. And they were all bundled out of Rio, young and old, men and women, children and babies. Out of sight out of mind. All homeless.

    • Hi, Shan-Rose, Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post. I think you are right about the situation of devastating poverty not changing in our life-times, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t sometimes think about the underprivileged people of the world.

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