Post-Olympic Rio: The legacy of the Games one year later

More than 42 billion Brazilian reals were spent on a 30-day event. For the residents of the city, was it worth it? Besides the memories of the competitions that the entire world watched on TV, what remained after the party was over? See in images what the situation is like in the Olympic city of Rio de Janeiro one year after the Games.

text by Thiago Mendes and Iara Moura/ Instituto Pacs

photos by: Caio Barbosa/Instituto Pacs

translation by Karen Lang/Instituto Pacs

Guanabara Bay

Fisherman Alex Sandro deplores the death of the fish in the Guanabara Bay and warns that the end of artisanal fishing is near. The clean-up of the bay was one of the major promises made as part of the Games’ environmental legacy.
“Unsatisfactory”: that was how the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) classified the result of the Guanabara Bay Clean-Up Programme (Programa de Despoluição da Baía de Guanabara, PDBG).
Expectation: Goal of cleaning up 80% of the bay.
Reality: artisanal fishing is under threat.

Deodoro Radical Park

Promised as a recreational facility that would be open to everyone after the Games, Deodoro Radical Park is still closed. While former mayor Eduardo Paes did open the swimming pool, the current city administration closed it and a call for tenders for the administration of the park was launched only at the end of June.

Arena of Tomorrow and Velodrome, at Olympic Park

Public access to the Olympic Park facilities is currently fenced off. The Velodrome’s air-conditioning costs (a federal government responsibility) — which are high as the system must be left on permanently due to the special kind of wood used (photo 1) — is one of the elements under the Federal Prosecutors Office’s scrutiny (Ministério Público Federal). The MPF is demanding that a plan for the use of the facilities be presented. Current Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella admitted that no budget had been set aside for the construction of the “Schools of Tomorrow”, which were to offer full-time education programmes. Four of them were to be built where the Arena of Tomorrow (photo 2) stands, but the city does not even have the money to dismantle it. Ex-mayor Eduardo Paes’ solution for the maintenance of the arenas was a public-private partnership, which failed. “There was no plan B”, the current Under Secretary of Sports and Leisure Patrícia Amorim admitted during a public hearing at the MPF.

Vila Autodromo

Of the over 800 families, only 20 remain in the community near the Olympic Park that was threatened the most with eviction. The struggle of the people of Vila Autódromo is now focussed on preserving the Evictions Museum. The community that resisted the tractors is seeking to keep the memories alive and standing.

photos by: Caio Barbosa (left) and Aline Furtado (right)

Vila Autodromo was one of the communities threatened the most by the bulldozers’ rage and the privatisation of urban land. Anyone who visited the community was confronted with the image of a war zone. According to the plans of the public-private-partnership, real estate developments were to be built where people’s houses had once stood.

Only 20 families succeeded in remaining in the area and received houses built by the city. Their homes all fit on one street: Rua Nelson Piquet. The Olympic Park area was home to the old Jacarepaguá racetrack. The original houses were destroyed. Only the St. Joseph, The Worker Chapel was spared.

Celio de Barros Stadium

Known in Rio as the “Maracanã of the athletics world”, the Célio de Barros Stadium remains closed, with no athletes, no cars and its tracks buried in pavement. The stadium housed the activities of both high-level athletes and children and adolescents participating in social projects.

Subway (Line 4)

One of the big promises on urban mobility, Line 4 of the subway system cost R$10 billion and only has six stations. It was the most expensive project of the Games. Investigations of bribery allegations related to its construction are currently underway. The average number of passengers ended up being 46% lower than predicted, which led the concessionaire to offer free rides for a certain period of time and now, a discount of up to 66% on the tariff. Line 3 never made it off the page.

Light Rail Vehicles (LRV) / Bus Rapid Transport service

The residents of the West Zone were left with the not-so-positive legacy of the Bus Rapid Transport service: it is constantly overcrowded and several other bus lines were cancelled — a measure that benefitted only the bus companies. Three years after its inauguration, the BRT Transoeste has already reached the saturation point. On the other side of the city, it is not uncommon to see the wagons of the Light Rail Vehicles (LRV) — which connects the bus terminal to the Santos Dumont airport — empty, as illustrated by the photo on the left. If an uninformed user enters the LRV without a pass, he or she will be fined R$170. Legacy? For whom?

Street vendors

In June, the city council authorised the municipal police to use potentially offensive weapons such as pepper spray and stun guns. Street vendors in Rio suffer from police repression of informal work, seizures of their merchandise such as tricycles and other goods that are not returned to them and other violations.


The state of Rio claims it is bankrupt and is paying the salaries of its civil servants (including police officers) in instalments, yet it invested R$1.39 million in ammunition and practically the same amount in less-lethal weapons. In 2017, statistics of the Instituto de Segurança Pública (Institute for Public Security) revealed an increase in the number of deaths during police operations. In February 2017, 84 people were killed, which represents an increase of 70% in relation to the same period one year earlier.

The militarisation of Rio in numbers

R$1,39 million spent on ammunition

This was how much the state of Rio — which claims to be bankrupt and is paying its public servants’ salaries (including those of police officers) in instalments — spent on weaponry. The same amount was spent on non-lethal weapons.

Source: Justiça Global

Brazil ranks 10th on the list of countries with the highest military spending. Its military budget grew in the 2000s.

Source: Site Top 10+

Military forces are called on to intervene in places such as the slums of large cities and countries such as Haiti. During the Confederations Cup (2013), the army occupied the Maré Complex on July 24th and killed 10 residents.
In 2017, statistics of the Instituto de Segurança Pública (Institute for Public Security) showed an increase in deaths during police operations. In February 2017, 84 people were killed, which is an increase of 70% in relation to the same period one year earlier.People killed by the police in Rio

R$2.9 billion: This was the amount of emergency funds the federal government freed up for public security during the Olympics.

Friedenreich School

In the plans for the Olympic City, not even the Friedenreich School, the city’s leading public school on the Basic Education Development Index (Ideb), was spared from the bulldozers. After a large mobilisation in 2013, the then-governor Sérgio Cabral went back on his decision to demolish the school, which is located beside the Maracanã stadium.

Porto Maravilha

Porto Maravilha (or “the Marvellous Port”) — the project that privatised an area of the city of great historical importance — buried the Black history there and made public authorities subservient to the interests of the market. The Museum of Tomorrow was built on the site where between 500,000 and 1 million African slaves arrived in Brazil. Despite the attempts at urban renewal and gentrification, the economic crisis directly affected the plans for large-scale developments in the area — at least for now. Though heavily in debt, the city has assumed the financial risks of the public-private partnership. (In the picture, the Instituto Pretos Novos, or the New Blacks Institute, whose goal is to promote the cultural heritage of the African Diaspora and Afro-Brazilian people, announces its closure. The sign says “With no support and no respect”.)

Golf Course

Right next to the Marapendi Environmental Protection Area — home to species such as sloths, armadillos, caracaras and thrushes — 58,000 m² of the Wildlife Conservation Zone was destroyed to build a golf course. The Fiori Empreendimentos Imobiliários LTDA company won the right to erect residential towers thanks to a decree issued by former mayor Eduardo Paes that increased the buildable area in the zone. There were so many irregularities in this process that in December 2016, the Court of Rio issued an order to freeze the assets of the former mayor who was accused of abuse of authority in relation to the project.


The Horto community’s historical resistance began in the mid-1990s when the administration of the Botanical Garden — created by John VI in the 19th century — began to demand the land for itself. Hundreds of repossession lawsuits are currently being processed and evictions by the police are routine events for the community that settled in the area nearly two centuries ago.

Aldeia Maracanã

“We will not give up the fight. We did not give up before the World Cup. We did not give up during the Olympics. We dream of having an indigenous university so that our relatives will feel respected, because there is still no respect for indigenous people in Brazil”, Potira Guajajara stated. Pepper spray, teargas, stun grenades and even a sound weapon that cause earaches were used to force the indigenous people to leave in March 2013. Eight months after the Olympics, they took back the land that according to their beliefs, connects them to the spirituality of their ancestors who lay to rest there, even if it is now covered in asphalt.
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