Brazil Faces Slew of Problems Ahead of Olympics Opening Ceremony - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Brazil Faces Slew of Problems Ahead of Olympics Opening Ceremony

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(ABC) -- As the opening ceremony to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro fast approaches, Brazil faces a slew of problems that could overshadow the highly-anticipated games.

Here are some of the major issues plaguing Brazil less than 100 days before games commence:

The Zika 'Health Disaster'

Unless the Olympics are postponed, the games could cause a "full-blown public health disaster" due to the Zika virus, according to a new report published earlier this week in the Harvard Public Review.

Author Amir Attaran, a professor in the School of Public Health and the School of Law at the University of Ottowa, warned that in order to avoid a Zika "health disaster," the games should not go on for the following reasons:

  • Rio's proximity to the disease
  • The dangers associated with this particular strain of the Zika virus
  • The increase of tourism, which will present risks of spreading the virus to other countries
  • The short amount of time health officials will have to develop control measures
  • What Attaran calls the irresponsibility in placing sports above public health.

Brazil is considered "ground zero" for Zika, a disease that causes severe birth defects in infants and high fever and muscle pains in adults. The World Health Organization is expected to release a statement advising travel precautions related to the Olympics soon.

Brazil's Political Turmoil and Corruption Scandal

Brazil's Senate voted today 55-22 to begin an impeachment trial of the country's first female president, Dilma Rousseff, for breaking spending accounting rules and hurling Brazil into political turmoil just months before the Olympics begin, The Associated Press reported.

Rousseff lit the Olympic torch in Brasília on May 3 and was supposed to open the games, as is typical for the leader of the host country. But that role may have to fall to Vice President Michel Temer, who will serve as Brazil's interim leader while the impeachment process takes place.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said he is looking forward to working with the new Brazilian government ahead of the Olympics, according to The AP.

"There is strong support for the Olympic Games in Brazil, and we look forward to working with the new government to deliver successful games in Rio this summer," Bach said.

Team Doping Problems

Kenya and Russia's track and field team are in jeopardy of missing the Olympics due to doping scandals.

Kenya's anti-doping agency was declared "non-compliant" with the World Anti-Doping Agency Code, throwing the country's participation in the games into question, ESPN reported.

The WADA compliance review committee said Kenya should be sanctioned because its recently-passed legislation setting parameters for its national anti-doping agency did not fully comply with the code, according to ESPN. Kenya has missed two previous ADA deadlines this year for passage of legal authorization to underpin its national anti-doping agency.

The Russian track and field team has been suspended from the games since November, when the WADA discovered state-funded doping in the sport, The AP reported. For the Sochi Olympics, Russian officials took clean urine from athletes months before the games and used soda containers and baby bottles passed through a hole in the wall of a testing lab or evade doping tests, the former head of Russia's anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, told The New York Times.

The International Association of Athletics Federation will decide soon whether either country's track team will be eligible to compete in Rio.

Venues for the Games

Five-time Olympic medalist Torben Grael said Brazil missed a once-in-a-lifetime chance to clear up the polluted Guanabara Bay, the venue that will host the sailing competition for the Olympic Games. The bay has been described as an "open sewer" by local and foreign sailors.

Rio only treats about half of its sewage, dumping the rest into open waterways around the city, according to The AP, which conducted a year-long water quality analysis. The AP found dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria in venues for the sailing, rowing, canoeing, triathlon and long-distance swimming games.

In late March, an indoor cycling test competition scheduled for April 30 and May 1 was canceled after the velodrome, the venue that will host Olympic track cycling, was not ready. Rio spokesman Mario Andrada said officials are confident the stadium will be ready for the Olympic Games.

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