SPOTLIGHT: RIO IN TROUBLE, ONE WEEK FROM OLYMPICS
Just seven days from the opening of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is still reeling from a succession of emergencies that tarnish the country's image as it prepares to play host to the world's top athletes. A long-running political and economic crisis continues unabated, while preparations in Rio are beset with logistical and infrastructural problems.
As the Games near, Brazil's government hoped to draw attention away from the ongoing impeachment of suspended President Dilma Rousseff, but former President Lula da Silva put the country's political woes back in the spotlight this week. Lula appealed to the UN Commission on Human Rights for protection against a magistrate prosecuting the bribery scandal shaking Brazil's establishment, accusing him of "persecution."
Meanwhile, outside the halls of power, the country is breathing in bad news from Guanabara Bay, which is slated to host swimming and sailing events: The waters of Rio's bay remain so polluted they could pose a health risk to competitors, while other multimillion infrastructure projects rush to completion. There are also — inevitably perhaps — security concerns. Authorities arrested several terror suspects last week, even as concerns over drug trafficking and violent crime remain high. City police also seized narcotics branded with fake Olympics-themed packaging.
Even the Olympic torch relay, meant as a symbol of national and global unity, was interrupted by a teachers' strike that caused the torch's flame to extinguish. After a trying year, Brazilians and visitors alike will hope the opening of the Games can provide a much-needed break from the string of bad news. It will be quite a test of the power of the Olympic spirit.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- EU statistics agency Eurostat to release its monthly report on the Eurozone economy.
- Pope Francis visits the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps.
- Oh, and, by the way, the world is supposed to end today, according to several theories that posit a "polar flip" will destroy the Earth on July 29, 2016.