Venues ready, but many challenges remain for Rio Games
By Andrew Downie
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil has long been known as a country that can throw a great party as long as the guests do not mind a location that still has the builders in it.
With 100 days to go before the Olympic Games begin in Rio de Janeiro, the nation famous for doing things at the last minute faces a novel situation: The venues are ready, but the host does not appear to be.
With the country's president fighting impeachment and the economy on track for its worst recession in more than a century, Brazilians are both angry and distracted.
"People are paying no attention" to the Olympics, said longtime Rio resident Julia Michaels, who chronicles the city through her Rio Real blog. "No one is talking about it at all because there are so many other things to talk about."
When Rio de Janeiro won the right to host the Games in 2009, Brazil was the darling of the developing world. Its economy had grown briskly for most of the decade, 30 million people had been lifted from poverty and the nation was assuming a prominent role in world affairs.
Since then, a collapse in commodities prices has dragged down the economy, and President Dilma Rousseff faces the prospect of being suspended from office next month on charges of budgetary fraud.
The twin meltdowns in politics and the economy have consumed Brazil, and the Olympics have all but disappeared from the front pages and TV news. In a nation where soccer has long been the sport that matters, politics is the only game in town.
"Brazil is going through a political crisis, and the situation has still to sort itself out," said Agatha Bednarczuk, one of the beach volleyball players who will represent her homeland. Continued...