Last year as Brazil geared up to hold the Summer 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, a huge corruption scandal hit the country: “Operação Lava Jato”, or “Operation Car Wash”. After much turmoil and international attention, many thought the scandal would subside with the new year. However, this has not been the case. And the scandal is still making headlines over a year since it first began, having become clear that it involves more than just Brazil.
Though Latin Americans have (understandably) received minimal coverage in the Winter Olympics held in Sochi, there is an upward trend in the region of participation in the winter games.
With one month until the World Cup, Brazil is rushing to complete the necessary infrastructure to effectively host the tournament, which begins June 12th when Brazil faces Croatia. The Brazilian Ministry of Tourism has estimated the World Cup could result in up to $11 billion USD in direct, indirect and induced economic growth for the country, a number more than 20 times what host South Africa made in 2010.
As part of Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Olympic bid, the olympic committee made a couple of large promises, one of them the clean up of Guanabara Bay in the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro. The Guanabara Bay will be one of the main features of the opening ceremony and will hold competitions for all sailing and rowing events. City officials promised to reduce waste and pollution in the bay by 80% but little progress has been made.1 If you ask any resident of Rio de Janeiro if the bay is fit for competition, or even display, they would confidently say no.
Much attention has been given to the fact that both the World Cup and Olympics are being held in Brazil and for good reason, they showcase the hosting country on the international stage. The sporting events allow the host country, and even the surrounding region to a lesser extent, the ability to put its best foot forward and signal its growth, stability, and good governance. While these two mega-events receive international attention, they are not the only international sporting events that take place in South America.
For the special 100-year anniversary edition of the Copa América tournament, 16 teams (a full list of participating nations can be found here, at http://www.ca2016.com/teams), instead of the typical 12, will compete for the championship of the oldest international soccer tournament on the planet. In most other years, South America’s best players would put their talents on display, with the likes of Neymar Jr., Lionel Messi, and James Rodríguez of Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia, respectively, squaring off on the pitch.
In less than a year, Brazil will be hosting their second major sporting event within a span of two years; the first being the FIFA World Cup in 2014, the second the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. While the former certainly did not come and go without its own political and social issues, the latter is stirring controversy of its own.