Half of Brazilians are against the Olympics

Posted at 4:02 PM, Jul 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-20 16:02:57-04
With the proximity of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the city of Rio de Janeiro is with various adornments and signs of the Olympics. In Flamengo Park (Aterro do Flamengo) in the southern part of the city, the panels have suffered acts of vandalism and were cut, leaving virtually unreadable. (Photo by Luiz Souza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Panels have suffered acts of vandalism and were cut, leaving them virtually unreadable. (Photo by Luiz Souza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Brazilians are not happy that the Olympics are in their backyard.

An estimated 50% of Brazilians are against the Olympics, according to Brazilian polling agency Datafolha. That’s double the disapproval rating from June 2013.

It’s a sobering reminder that Brazilians are grappling with the country’s historic recession, which has shadowed the lead up to the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, which start August 5.

The poll is especially worrisome considering that there are about 1.7 million unsold tickets for the Olympics still available two weeks before the Games begin, according to figures from Rio Organizers.

Brazilian tourism officials have anticipated that Brazilians will buy up many of the remaining tickets, insisting that locals are just waiting until the last minute.

They may have a long wait. Brazil is in its longest recession since the 1930s, inflation remains high and consumer confidence has plummeted. The recession stems from a downturn in prices for commodities like oil — an engine of the economy — and the unprecedented corruption scandal at the state-run oil company Petrobras.

The political crisis peaked in May when Brazil’s Congress voted to begin an impeachment trial against President Dilma Rousseff. Her presidency was suspended for six months and interim President Michel Temer isn’t having much more luck.

His approval ratings hover around 10% and three of his cabinet members have resigned since May due to corruption allegations related to Petrobras.

Against a severe recession and political crisis, major concerns have been raised about Rio’s ability to prove it’s ready for the games. All the facilities are finished and officials stress that security will be beefed up with 80,000 police and military officers in Rio, far more than the London games.

Still, major uncertainties remain about security, the Zika virus and infrastructure for the games. The state of Rio de Janeiro recently received a federal bailout in part to help beef up security for the Games.

Amid those concerns, at least half of Brazilians don’t seem thrilled that the Summer Olympics — and world spotlight — are coming to Rio.