Branding the World of Sports

Is Rio the most dangerous city to host the Olympics?

Posted by ZA on October 21, 2009

The IOC recently selected Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.  Rio beat out an impressive field of candidates, including; Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo.  Rio de Janeiro was one of the host cities in Brazil that was selected by FIFA to host the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament.  Which means the two biggest sporting events in the world are coming to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Rio and Brazil are deserving hosts of these events, but one lingering question is will safety be an issue for these events?  Rio does have a history of violence and has been named as one of the most dangerous cities in the world.  The president of Brazil recently offered almost $60 million dollars to Rio de Janeiro; money that would be used to help curb the widespread gang violence in the city.  This was after a particularly violent weekend in Rio which saw 17 people murdered as drug gangs battled the police.

These questions that Rio is facing now are the same questions that South Africa faced when when they were awarded the 2010 World Cup.  In South Africa’s case those questions cannot be definitively answered until next Summer when the World Cup kicks off.  A few people I know who traveled to South Africa recently said there are areas that are very safe and a few areas that tourists should probably stay away from; essentially they gave South Africa a positive rating when it comes to safety.  So if South Africa can avoid any major violence, there is no reason to think that Rio and Brazil won’t be able to as well.

There is always lots of petty crime that follows these big sporting events.  The pickpockets in Italy for the Torino Winter Olympics were legendary.  So both South Africa and Brazil will have to work hard to keep crime to a minimum, but I don’t expect there will be much violence.  They will both spend whatever it takes to keep the violence from drug gangs and the like from marring their big events.  The memories of the murders at the 1972 Olympics in Munich and bombing in Atlanta in 1996 make sure they don’t forget what could happen if they let down their guard.

So although Rio de Janeiro is often in the headlines for violence, it is ultimately not likely to have any more violence during the Summer Games or World Cup than any other recent host city.


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