On the route from London to Rio


The news reports from Brazil in the last few days have reflected something of a transition, to my ears at least. The voices that our media have captured as they attempt to explain the  unrest on the Streets have distilled down to a number of key issues and in this change it has been possible, albeit in a superficial sense to see at least one link to our own experience.

Despite several attempts to secure the hosting of the football World Cup in recent years, at present we are still on the subs bench and perhaps should be grateful for this. The Rugby World Cup to be held here in 2015 is not on the same scale and thankfully Rugby does not have the corrupt FIFA to deal with. The Brazilian economy, as one of the BRIC nations has achieved a placing ahead of the UK for at least the last three years but this is not much benefit under the circumstances. To have one International tournament to deal with in the shape of the World Cup 2014 may now seem like a misfortune, but to have to then deal with the Olympic Games in 2016 is close to a catastrophe.

As the voices of some of the more articulate protesters from Rio were given airtime, the challenges faced by this emerging nation attempting to build what is now seen as an unnecessary infrastructure, at the expense of homes and other facilities came into sharp focus. The comparison between Rio 2016 and London 2012 should not be overplayed. Although the Brazillian economy is larger than our own, the GDP of London is some 3-4 times the size of Rio. This means that any development in Rio will appear much more ostentatious than a comparable development in London. However the fact that in both cases these nations over extended the Capital available to them to build new venues for their Olympic events and that their respective private sectors failed to make up the shortfall is entirely consistent for both Olympic Games, although it is reasnoble to assume that the shortfall in Rio is substantially larger than that for London.

The real divergence between the two cases, at least as far as my superficial understanding goes is that the residents of Rio understand that the gap between the capital the Brazillian Government can afford and the cost of the Olympic venues will be met by the poorest members of their society which is why the Streets of Rio are engulfed with riot Police as I write. On the other hand the residents of Great Britain have been persuaded that the cost of the Olympics was a small part of what is now being called austerity measures. However around 5% of the entire London 2012 budget was taken directly from money set aside to fund good causes as part of the Big Lottery.

There is nothing to be gained from rioting in the Streets of any of our cities, but on the other hand it would be helpful if some of our Politicians could take the time to come up with more effective responses than Boris Johnson managed last week at the Evolve2013 conference when he was not even willing to take questions on any matter, let alone that of the Big Lottery Refund!

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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