The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, have several threats that could affect the safety of the athletes and spectators. These threats could include health issues, crime, and terrorism. Earlier this year, the main concerns facing the Summer Olympics was the possibility of athlete doping and the Zika virus but as the games approach a terrorist attack seems more likely. Heavy News reported, on June 29, 2016, that a Portuguese propaganda station was launched and announced the creation of a “Brazilian Caliphate.” The Islamic State instructed jihadists to become lone wolves, to create havoc around the world and at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
According to “The New York Times,” on July 21, 2016, the uncertainty surrounding the Olympic games became even more pronounced as four top tennis players in the past five days announced they were skipping the games. Seventh-ranked Milos Raonic, eighth-ranked Tomas Berdych, fifth-ranked Simona Halep, and seventeenth-ranked Karolina Pliskova are all international tennis players who have refused to participate in the 2016 Olympics. This announcement came as a shock with the games only two weeks away. There were prior discussions about the Zika virus and other health concerns held at the French Open and Wimbledon competitions.
CNN reported that Russia’s appeal on the ban of their track and field athletes failed after the Court for the Arbitration of Sport rejected the appeal filed by the Russian Olympic Committee and the 67 athletes involved. This scandal surrounding the Olympic Games has also added to the negative perception of the event. First, it was Zika then there were athletes doping, and now ISIS has directed the jihadist population of the world to go out and raise havoc by attaining weapons and creating traffic accidents.
It comes as no surprise to continue to see athletes refuse to participate in the Rio 2016 Olympic games because there are too many threats related to health issues, terrorist activities, and criminal behavior. Russia’s sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, called for the disbanding of the world’s athletic governing body. It seems this threat is vacuous in nature since these types of governing bodies should be impervious to these types of attacks.
Russia was initially suspended from track and field in November 2015, by the International Association of Athletic Federation (IAAF). On July 21, 2016, the decision to deny the appeal resulted in Mutko making a public announcement via Twitter. Mutko tweeted, “Corrupt Judges! How can you deprive clean sportsmen of their dream.” This statement has suggested it is the judges who are corrupt instead of the track and field athletes who were proven guilty of doping.
In November 2015, an initial threat against the 2016 Olympics was made by Maxime Hauchard, who was identified as a French national and the executioner in the Islamic State propaganda videos. The message was delivered to the world via Twitter. The Tweet stated, “Brazil you are our next target.” With all of this turmoil going on, increasing numbers of athletes and spectators may reconsider their trip to Rio for the 2016 Olympics.
According to the United States Government, it is more likely a person would contract the flu in Rio than contract the Zika virus. The United States has also created a document discussing the various threats to the 2016 Olympics. Twenty of the thirty pages included are related to crime and security during the event. However, there is only one page devoted to information related to the Zika virus.
Even though criminal and terrorist activities are the highest priorities for the security of the athletes and spectators of the 2016 Olympics. The Zika virus still appears to be a potential silent killer to the international event. There are so many apparent threats it is impossible to know for sure which of these threats will have more impact. Those considering attendance at the games should be aware there are health issues, criminal behavior, and terrorism activities that could be threats for everyone at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Opinion News by Kristina Lasher
Edited by Cathy Milne
CNN: Russia Olympics: Russian athletes lose doping ban appeal
The New York Times: Concerned About Zika, More Top Tennis Players Are Skipping Olympics
Heavy: ISIS Instructs Followers on How to Attack Rio Olympics 2016
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