Rio 2016: the Refugee Team & Some Contradictions

kim kardashian
Today, after seven years of preparation, the Olympic Games opened in Rio. The most important competition in the world will see 205 and two independent teams (Olympic Athletes and one Independent Olympic Athlete) compete in 42 disciplines for the next two weeks.

Against all odds, ten refugees will join the Olympic Games in Rio. They will not represent their nation, but the community they now belong to, those thousands fleeing ever day (Europe receives 8,000 per day).
The Team Refugees will run towards something instead of running from something. Even though Brazil is far from the reality experienced in the last years by Europe (the ‘Refugee Crisis’), it is symbolic to have such a team since the Olympics’ ethics there is first of all: peace among nations.
Nevertheless, the Rio Olympics risk slipping into a vicious hypocrisy circle. In September, the Rio Times announced that the Olympics would have benefited the Brazilian labor market, creating 90.000 news job. However, it was also announced that many positions had the possibility of being occupied by non-Brazilians. The Games in Rio cost 4.60 billion dollars, which may not be the craziest expenditure (London spent $14.96 bn and Sochi $21.89 bn), but when contextualized in the critic economic crisis faced by the country, is more than massive costs. We will have the last word just at the end of the games when income and expenditures will be finally computed.
The Washington Post has a lot to say about the situation that Rio is facing: the mood is cooled down by the heavy police presence and the war conducted against favelas, as analyzed by the Brazilian General Director of Amnesty International. In fact, he claimed: “Rio de Janeiro is a tale of two cities. On the one hand, the glitz and glamour designed to impress the world and on the other, a city marked by repressive police interventions that are decimating a significant part of a generation of young, black and poor men”.
Let us analyze for a moment the human rights situation with lenses of what is called Modern-Day Slavery.
In the category of Contemporary Slavery fall: domestic servitude, sex trafficking, forced labor, bonded labor, child labor and forced marriage. Regarding the latter, child brides in Brazil reach the first position in Latin America and the fourth worldwide. While bonded labor is more a “Western trend”, the other types of modern-day slavery are widely spread in Brazil. This point has to be considered when one regards at where and how those job opportunities were created.
So, on one side Rio demonstrates great humanity, hosting ten refugees as a powerful message to the international community: a fraternal and unite one.  On the other, it deepens the contradictions and hypocrisy of the Olympic games, which are played at the expenses of those who cannot even watch the game on TV.  Not a new subject matter, for sure.

About Diletta Bellotti

I am bizarre. Yet I have mainstream passions: I like beautiful things like art, nice people and silence. I hold firmly my values of peace and respect, I may sound very strict and annoying at this point. I used to paint but I quit, I used to read lot of poetry but I quit. I basically quit lots of things since the whirl of daily news absorbed my time and my energy. I am an optimistic fatalist and go with the flow, a flow I dammed myself.

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