Rio Olympics has serious issues with just six...
|
Bookmark and Share
Feb 04, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Rio Olympics has serious issues with just six months to go

Six months from Friday, the Olympic cauldron will be lit to officially open the Games — at least that’s still the plan — and many bumps remain to be negotiated

OurWindsor.Ca

The road to Rio de Janeiro has been a long and bumpy one since the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2016 Summer Games to a South American country for the first time.

Six months from Friday, the Olympic cauldron will be lit to officially open the Games — at least that’s still the plan — and many bumps remain to be negotiated.

Here are six issues, dealing with domestic questions and those of a more global scope, to think about six months before the Games begin.

Mosquito Menace

The organizing committee has been plagued with issues and setbacks almost from the time the Games were awarded and now the mosquito-borne Zika virus presents a new and major danger.

While Games officials say they can manage the problem — they say they’ll constantly monitor Games sites for stagnant water where the infectious bugs breed and that the cool, dry Brazilian winter weather will help — they acknowledge a real and present threat.

The new menace constitutes a global health emergency, according to the World Health Organization, and Zika was first identified last April. An estimated 1.5 million people in Brazil have been infected.

Austerity

Even before the Zika virus, the Games were beset with problems, and officials now have a mere six months to fix them. And the issues have not been resolved, not by a long-shot.

The bacteria-laden waters swimmers and sailors have to deal with are still on the minds of athletes and officials. This issue remains unsolved to everyone’s satisfaction to this point.

And the Games are woefully over-budget, causing officials to suggest — but then backtrack — from a cost-cutting move to eliminate air-conditioning in the athletes village. But money is a significant problem, and just getting the Games up and running functionally by August is a legitimate question.

And venues for swimming and rowing have been downsized, and ticket revenue is at about 75 per cent of projections.

Andre De Grasse

The men’s 100-metre final is one of the highlights of the Olympics and, for the first time since Donovan Bailey almost two decades ago, Canadian fans are over the moon for young sensation Andre De Grasse.

De Grasse, the darling of a significant Canadian track and field contingent, heads into final preparations with change all around him — is six months enough to adapt to it?

He’s now a professional, blessed with an eight-figure contract from Puma, he’s moved his training base to Phoenix with the highly-regarded ALTIS group but he’s also with his fourth coach in four years.

There’s no questioning his skill, but he is entering the most important training period of his life in new surroundings.

Russia under scrutiny

There is much to do for Russia to even participate in the marquee event of the Olympics — track and field — and the next six months will be telling.

The IAAF, the world governing body of athletics, banned the Russian federation after a scathing report from WADA, the global anti-doping organization.

Russia has continued to insist it will clean up any systemic issues, and its deputy sports minister said this week he expected track and field athletes to be among the country’s 450-member contingent in Rio.

The IAAF will meet in March, and high on its agenda will be the Russia situation, and it will continue to be a story even if Russian athletes are allowed to compete because questions will linger.

In the hunt

Canada’s past in team events at the Summer Games has been spotty at best. Only two medals — women’s soccer bronze in 2012 in London and men’s basketball silver in 1936 in Berlin — and the same teams are chasing simple spots in the Games in the coming months.

The women are looking to capture one of two CONCACAF spots at a tournament in Texas starting next week. The men have one spot available to fight for at a final FIBA qualifier in Philippines in July.

Canada does have legitimate medal hopes in women’s sevens rugby and women’s basketball and has also qualified in men’s field hockey.

There is a chance it will be Canada’s largest “team” representation in the modern era.

Priming the pump

The Olympics are about being at your best on one specific day, maybe two. It’s about doing all the training and tapering and getting the body and mind ready to go all out on one specific day.

For two Canadian athletes coming off world championship performances last fall, the final six months before Rio will include the most important training period of their lives.

Pole vaulter Shawn Barber and high jumper Derek Drouin — both gold medallists at the 2015 world athletic championships — will demand watching in the lead-up to Rio because they have to be at their very best on one specific day, and that takes meticulous planning and preparation.

Toronto Star

|
Bookmark and Share

(0) Comment

Join The Conversation Sign Up Login

In Your Neighbourhood Today

SPONSORED CONTENT View More