No doubt many have heard of a few athletes who, in the run up to the Olympics decided to make the decision to pull out due to the fear of contracting the Zika Virus which now, next the the Olympics is synonymous with Brazil. It was a fair enough reason, undoubtedly they were in fear of putting themselves and their families, present and future, at unnecessary risk.
It surprised me however that no athlete expressed unhappiness or decided to pull out of the it due to the running of the Olympics themselves. Not a single country or athlete seems to have expressed their concern at this, at all; not at the exploited workers, not at the economic state of the country, not at the pollution that careless work has caused. Now, I don’t mean to communicate the idea that Brazil is the worst, most corrupt country in the world, there are many contenders for that title, including my own country. But I do wish to express my dismay that no government or athlete stood back and said they would not compete based on what was happening in Rio in the run-up, and during, the Olympics. Is the reward too great? Would ruffling some feathers cause untold damage to their careers? Could it compromise any countries future prospects at being able to host such a coveted event?
It’s depressing to think that people may lose their livelihoods if they speak up, but that is always how the powerful stay powerful and the weak remain subjugated. It happens all over the world on a daily basis.
The people living only meters away and living in great poverty will get nothing from the Olympics, a country that is already in a deep recession with a huge proportion of people without any basic sanitation and living conditions to speak of. And even within the better off classes the situation is grim with university professors and hospital staff not even being paid the wages owed to them and that is with an epidemic sweeping the country, more so, in the poorer regions. On top of this 6,000 families have been evicted with promises of reparations that they are yet to receive.* (http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/fivering_circus/2016/08/everything_that_s_gone_wrong_in_brazil_in_the_runup_to_the_2016_rio_olympics.html)
Once again it sadly becomes clear that money is seen as of much greater importance than human lives. I do not mean to single Brazil out in this regard as this is happening all over the world every second of everyday, including my own country. As soon as money is mentioned all thoughts of safety and any concern for the environment or its people go out the window. So, the water is poisoned from all the waste spewing from this factory or that, so long as the effects are not noticed straight away corners will be cut to extract as much profit as possible. These companies and sometimes even governments do not care for the welfare of those left behind in the aftermath. All they care about is the immediate reward:
“It’s a problem of management,” he told the Guardian. “Eleven people have died due to the pressure applied when projects had to be accelerated. That meant safety standards were sacrificed.”
Eleven people. Eleven fathers, eleven sons, eleven brothers. Dead, for what? Because a deadline had to be reached, and as such was rushed. There is nothing that can ever be so important that the lives of workers can be put at such risk.
“Castillo admitted her team of 10 auditors was too small to monitor the sites – some of which are two or three hours away – as frequently as she would have liked. Even so, she said they discovered 1,715 infractions and ordered work to shut down on close to 50 occasions due to violations that put workers lives at risk.
““This is very unusual,” said Castillo, who has worked as an inspector for nine years. Showing photographs of open lift shafts, stairs without handrails and workers walking without safety harnesses across planks, she put the blame at the door of the Rio mayor, Eduardo Paes. “The city doesn’t have a focus on safety. I think they’re focused on the work not the workers.”” (https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/jul/28/olympic-games-deadlines-lives-chief-inspector-labour)
Who cares about these workers, many migrants, when the government and corporate views profits as more important than people? To them such cheap labour is disposable:
“Prosecutors also say that a high proportion of the workers had come from a poor area of Brazil and were promised by Brasil Global Serviços that their room and food would be paid for.
“There were cockroaches, rats and sewage in the residences,” prosecutor Valeria Correa said in a statement.”Many slept outside given all the filth.”” (http://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1029431/rio-2016-olympic-village-workers-living-in-conditions-similar-to-slavery-brazilian-prosecutor-claims)
How can our world ever expect to tackle any crisis whether that be refugees, poverty, climate change etc when the governments and that corporations on their back consider profit over people? Who only consider the immediate monetary value and do not consider the consequences of such short shortsightedness? At lease it is good to know there are others who are fighting against this corruption and trying to make a difference.
I just worry they are too few.