Brazil and Olympic games

Probing Eye
(This piece was written on the day of opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic games,)
Its tottering economy and deteriorating fiscal health notwithstanding, Brazil chose the opening ceremony of 31st Olympic games to caution the world against impending threats of global warming. Normally, opening ceremonies or events like Olympic games are used more to showcase art, culture, infrastructure and social ethos of the host nation, Rio made a healthy deviation.

Admitting budgetary constraints, the organisers claimed that the colourful start to the games after a gruelling four-hour ceremony, three-fourths of which was consumed in the parade of participating athletes, was “cool”.Through this “cool” ceremony they doled out to world “global warming” warning.For a while, the focus shifted from sports to the environment. Rightly so, the world has to take this warning seriously.

Not only that, the producers of the opening ceremony wanted the audience worldwide to take note of our planet maintaining that humanity by its actions was profoundly impacting the balance of life on earth. Some of the effects were irreversible.

Going a step beyond, they used plants and flower bedecked cycle rickshaws and a child carrying a plant was with each of the participating contingents was to highlight the deteriorating ecosystem. Preserving the forests or replacing those that were destroyed, they suggested, was still the cheapest and scalable way to capture the main greenhouse gas — Carbon — and to reduce its concentration in the atmosphere to delay global warming.

Politics apart, the ceremony was also more about sportsmen of yesteryears as not only legendary Kenyan runner Kep Keino was felicitated with Olympic Order, but also the Mayor of Rio, Carlos Nuzman, and the IOC President, Thomas Bach, also recalled their feats as Olympians. Nuzman played volleyball for Brazil in 1964 Tokyo Olympics and Thomas Bach won fencing gold in the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

Contrary to that no Olympian has ever come to head Indian Olympic Association though Raja Randhir Singh, an Olympian shooter, remained its General Secretary for many years. The Chief Executive of the 2012 Olympic games in London was also an Olympian athlete Sebastian Coe.

Brazil may have been the target of adverse Western media criticism on eve of the first ever Olympics in South America, yet turn out at various venues, including Opening ceremony, has been beyond expectations of many.

India has not only sent its biggest ever contingent to any Olympic games in 120 years, a lot many sports enthusiasts owing allegiance to India, have turned up here. A galaxy of former Olympians, including Avtar Singh Sohal and Nazleen Shah (hockey), many others have come on their own to witness these games.

Nearly 50 journalists and as may volunteers add to the number of Indians who are here especially for the games.A substantial section of Indian Diaspora, too, has descended on Rio. Many members of the expatriate Indian community from Canada, US and England are noticeable.

Just a month before the start of Games, the Indian community in general, and, Punjabi community in particular, opened Brazil’s first Gurdwara at Sao Paulo. This is in addition to two gurdwaras of American Sikhs.

Contrary to critical media reports about the high incidence of robberies, snatchings and daylight robberies on streets of Rio, locals are generally warm, friendly, helpful and hospitable. They would go out of their way to help visitors and outsiders.

Needless to say, the authorities are not taking any chances. The military has been deployed in strength. At places, one could see tanks and also mounted security men patrolling areas. Some of the Favelas — notorious for snatchings and robberies — have been fenced. The Government has declared the month of Olympics as “zero tolerance” period for anti-social activities.

As of now, it appears, Brazil will have one of the best Olympic games ever held with a limited Budget. In all, it would cost this leader of BRICS 10.6 billion US dollars.For Brazil, it has been a worthy investment as it has added prestige to its successful conduct of World Earth Summit and the FIFA World Cup in the immediate past.

Probing Eye was in Rio for Olympic games.