Are problems the highlight of the Olympics?

The Olympic Games are meant to be a time for sportsmen and women to come together and celebrate their immense talents while battling each other for dominance. They are competitive at heart but also one of the few platforms where the entire world gets the opportunity to gather and truly show our unity in diversity.

The preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympics have not been without much controversy. These games have had so many hijinks that only the 2022 Qatar World Cup can measure up in terms of high drama and gritty news.

For one the surprising threat of the Zika virus that seemed to crop up from seemingly nowhere has now become imminent. While the newest and most prominent recipient of the disease has been Jamaican dancehall star Beenie Man the effects of the disease are particularly severe for pregnant women. Expectant mothers who contract the virus give birth to babies with microcephaly which is manifested by a significantly smaller head compared to other babies of the same age.

As the virus spreads into southern USA from South America, Olympic athletes have taken drastic measures to prevent infection. South Korean athletes have taken to wearing Zika-proof suits, the Chinese team travel with mosquito nets wherever they choose to sleep, Great Britain long jump gold medalist Greg Rutherford has reportedly frozen his sperm, while still some have opted out of the games all together such as golfers Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, basketball star Steph Curry and US women’s football goalkeeper Hop Solo.

Another issue that has plagued the Rio Olympics is that of pollution. The waterways and channels particularly the Guanabara Bay, where many water sports of the games will take in are heavily contaminated with raw human sewerage which in turn can cause viruses and disease. ABC news reports that up to 90 per cent of the test sites that were under review carried infectious adenovirus readings.

Swimmers are at a great risk because of their contact with the water and although a clean-up effort is still under way in the city, according to a report in The Independent swimmers need to ingest only three teaspoons of water before becoming violently ill.

It’s not just the water that a cause for concern, Rio’s famed beaches have also shown signs of heavy pollution which might be a threat to tourists and the air is severely clogged with a pollutant known as particulate matter which causes serious health concerns for anyone residing or visiting the city.

The Olympic Village, which is usually highlight of the games, has been marred with problems. The domiciles where athletes will stay during the nearly month-long events have been called uninhabitable from multiple sources while facilities have broken down and others have faced security issues like theft.

With only a few days to go before the opening ceremony this is sure to be an interesting Olympic Games.

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