It's pretty much a given that hosting the Olympics is a poor investment. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is throwing its resources at a disaster that even Bernie Madoff would consider ill-advised.
The South American power was a growing and stable economy when it was awarded the Games in 2009. Brazil had developed into the world's sixth-largest economy by 2011. Then, an economic downturn and a host of political scandals made the 2016 Olympics the global event equivalent of a fire tornado touching down on a killer bee sanctuary. A new problem seems to break into media headlines each day.
Officials in Rio have handled all the standard headaches that come with hosting the Games -- cost overruns, unfinished venues, limited public transportation -- but added a new level of catastrophe on top of it. Visitors to Brazil this summer will be caught up in a whirlwind of uncertainty that includes concerns like political unrest, environmental indifference and even a global pandemic.
So instead of the standard backdrop of revelry, athletic conquest and confusing mascots, the Rio games will take root in the eye of a storm of social, political, and physical upheaval. Here's everything that has gone wrong in the lead-up to August's Olympic Games.
Oct. 2, 2009: Rio de Janiero beats out Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid to secure hosting rights for the 2016 Summer Olympics. It becomes the first South American city to win the honor in the process.
August 2014-present: The Zika virus emerges as a possible pandemic, plaguing South America and forcing Olympic athletes to make major decisions about their own health. The mosquito-borne illness, which creates issues such as microcephaly in infants born to afflicted mothers and Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults, creates a constant talking point that follows the games for nearly two full years.
As a result, notable athletes like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Tejay van Garderen decide to stay at home rather than compete for gold. Another, British long jumper Greg Rutherford, takes the extra precaution of freezing his sperm before crossing the Atlantic. Brazilian authorities, however, maintain there is "almost zero" risk of infection.
March 13, 2015: Copacabana Beach, the future site for beach volleyball at the 2016 Games, is flooded with demonstrators as protests grip the nation. Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians take to the streets to voice frustration with government corruption and spending on non-essential projects like the 2014 World Cup and the upcoming Olympics. These protests carry on into 2016 as a widespread recession grips the country. The number of demonstrators involved rises well into the millions as a result.
July 30, 2015: An Associated Press investigation finds dangerous amounts of human sewage in Guanabara Bay, where the Games' maritime events will be held. According to a follow-up article from the New Yorker, the feces may not be the most troubling foreign body in the water.
Among the things Olympic sailors have reported seeing while training in and testing out the venues of Guanabara Bay, one of the sites for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, are mattresses, cars, washing machines, trees, tables, televisions, couches, and chairs, as well as dead dogs, horses, and cats. The Brazilian sailor Lars Grael, a two-time Olympic medalist, told the Times last year that he has seen human bodies on four separate occasions.
2015-ongoing: Worldwide prices for key Brazilian exports like gasoline and sugar drop significantly, sending the country into a financial spiral. The country's economy shrinks by nearly 4 percent over the course of the year, and is expected to post a similar decrease in 2016. As a result, Brazil enters its largest recession since the 1930s.
December 2015: Officials request an extra $247 million to complete the rail line that will connect the epicenter of the Olympics to the city center of Rio, as the city's mayor contends the system may not be ready for passengers before the Opening Ceremony. Their offer is countered with a cheaper, less dig-y plan: buses.
Feb. 8, 2016: The United States Olympic Committee advises its athletes to consider skipping the 2016 Games if they have concerns about the Zika virus. "No one should go if they feel at all as though that that threat could impact them," says Donald Anthony, president and board chairman of USA Fencing.
April 17, 2016: Brazilian legislators vote to impeach president Dilma Rousseff, who was elected in 2014. The country's leader faces charges tied to the Petrobras Scandal, in which the nation's largest oil company is accused of orchestrating the largest corruption scheme in the country's history. The process, which began in December 2015 after a 37th impeachment request was filed against Rousseff, is currently ongoing.
April 21, 2016: A raised Rio bike path constructed as part of the infrastructure improvements tied to the Olympics collapses, killing two cyclists and injuring a third.
May 7, 2016: The murder of a 17-year-old girl in Rio de Janeiro compels soccer star Rivaldo to discourage his 400,000+ Instagram followers from visiting Brazil this summer. "Things are getting uglier here every day. I advise everyone with plans to visit Brazil for the Olympics in Rio — to stay home."
May 20, 2016: With fewer than three months before the Opening Ceremony begins, only two-thirds of Olympic tickets have been sold. This is an improvement from Dec. 31, where the majority of all tickets were still available, but still lagging for a global athletic event. As of late June, more than 1.8 million open seats remained.
May 27, 2016: Analyses of urine and blood samples from the 2012 Olympics find 23 potential 2016 Olympians failed drug tests at the last Summer Games.
May 30, 2016: After the company building it declares bankruptcy, Rio de Janeiro officials cancel the construction contract for the velodrome that will host Olympic cycling events. The arena is the last venue that needs to be completed, but organizers insist it will be finished before the Games begin.
June 3, 2016: CNN reports gun battles are a semi-regular occurrence in Rio de Janeiro. In the first four months of 2016, the amount of robberies in the state increases by 24 percent and the number of murders jumps by 16 percent. Local lawmakers insist that up to 85,000 police officers will be deployed to keep the Games safe. A local security expert notes this added protection is likely to apply only to tourists and not the residents of Rio who need it the most.
June 17, 2016: Rio de Janeiro acting governor Francisco Dornelles declares a state of financial emergency in the face of a "total collapse in public security, health, education, transport and environmental management." The move allows the government to borrow money without approval from local lawmakers.
June 20, 2016: A shootout grips Rio de Janeiro's largest public hospital after armed gunmen conduct a raid to free an imprisoned drug kingpin known as "Fat Family." One person died at the Souza Aguiar Hospital, which is one of five designated clinics to treat Olympic patrons.
June 21, 2016: PBS releases an in-depth investigation into Guanabara Bay where, uh ...
June 22, 2016: The Brazilian government approves a federal bailout of nearly $850 million to provide essential services for the Olympic ceremony and events. Somehow, this bailout fails to specifically designate funds for the unfinished rail line designed to connect the Olympic grounds to the city's center.
June 22, 2016: Juma, a spotted jaguar who participated in an Olympic torch relay event earlier in the day, is shot to death after escaping from her enclosure in Manaus.
June 24, 2016: The Brazilian Doping Control Laboratory is suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency for "non-conformity" with its International Standard for Laboratories. It was the only accredited lab in the nation. The suspension comes despite $60 million in recently awarded funding to cover improvements and upgrades.
June 28, 2016: Dornelles warns his country that his state has yet to receive the federal funding needed to create the essential services -- security and transportation among them -- for the massive tourist event about to swarm one of the most important cities in Brazil. "The police fleet runs the risk of stopping," said Dornelles. "We managed to stretch the finances and we'll only last until the end of the week."
June 30, 2016: Human body parts, including a foot, wash up on the shore of the Copacabana beach in front of the venue that will host beach volleyball competitions 36 days later.
July 2, 2016: Two skydivers fall to their deaths in Brazil while performing an aerial stunt meant to depict the Olympic rings in midair.
July 4, 2016: The human feces in Guanabara Bay are replaced, at least on the surface, by a wide oil slick that turns boats brown as they cut through it.
July 5, 2016: Brazilian scientists discover a drug-resistant "super bacteria" thriving in the water off the coasts of Rio de Janeiro. This includes beaches that border Guanabara Bay.
July 6, 2016: Brazilian police officers, upset with the lack of funding and strain their departments face, step up their public protests by greeting tourists at the Rio airport with signs that say "Welcome to Hell" and "Whoever comes to Rio de Janeiro will not be safe."
July 7, 2016: Oxford University publishes a study estimating the 2016 Rio Olympics a mere $1.6 billion over budget. However, at an estimated public cost of $5.9 billion, it's a far cry from the exorbitant expenditures of the London ($15B) and Sochi ($21.9B) games. Still, in the name of cutting costs, athletes won't have access to televisions in their rooms at the Olympic Village.
July 7, 2016: Human Rights Watch releases a 109-page study suggesting Brazil's methods of dealing with violence in Rio's poorest sections are excessively violent. Their report shows there were 645 people killed in the city as a result of officer-involved shootings in 2015.
July 10, 2016: The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rejects all but one application from Russian track and field hopefuls for the upcoming games. This move upholds a 2015 ban related to the nation's truly impressive network of doping and other innovating cheating schemes. Only long jumper Darya Klishina, who currently lives in the United States, is cleared to compete but must do so as an "independent neutral athlete."
It's the first-ever national doping ban in Olympic history. This one probably isn't Brazil's fault.
July 18, 2016: An independent report to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) details Russia's widespread doping scandal dating back to 2010. This includes swapping samples, hiding positive results, tampering with tamper-proof evidence bottles, destroying urine samples, creating a literal doping cocktail, and more. Even the FSB -- the modern-day version of the KGB -- was involved.
July 20, 2016: The SITE Intelligence group finds that jihadi terrorist groups have begun to use messaging apps to urge followers to attack the Olympics in Rio. Some of the messages are distributed in Portuguese in an attempt to radicalize Brazilian citizens, a tactic that has apparently been used very rarely in the past. The messages specifically attempt to incite "lone wolf" attackers, like the ones responsible for massacres in Orlando and Nice.
July 21, 2016: The Court of Arbitration for Sport upholds the ban of 68 Russian track and field athletes from Rio.
July 21, 2016: A protester, fire extinguisher in hand, attempts to disrupt the Olympic torch relay. The stunt fails, but provides at least one attendee the opportunity for a totally rad selfie after the crash.
July 21, 2016: The Brazilian government arrests ten people believed to be members of a group supporting the Islamic State who planned on plotting terrorism during the games. The group was reportedly "amateur," had not yet purchased weapons or made any concrete plans, and was snuffed out quickly by the Brazilian government, but the fact that Brazilian citizens have bought the messages spread online by Islamic State-affiliated groups is troubling.
July 24, 2016: The Olympic Village officially opens its doors to athletes, but when an Australian contingent of boxers and canoeists attempts to move in, they find it to be "unlivable." There are leaky pipes, unlit stairwells, and instances of flooding. The team is reportedly seeking out residence in a hotel for the time being while a cleanup crew attempts to get the village into shape. On the plus side, the Australians note that they are pleased with the level of security in the village.
July 24, 2016: Russia narrowly escapes a blanket ban from the 2016 Games as a result of the doping scandal that wiped out the majority of the country's track and field presence in Rio.
July 25, 2016: One day later, seven Russian swimmers are barred from the Olympics after Fina, swimming's governing body, finds irregularities with their anti-doping reports. This includes 2012 bronze medalist Yulia Emifova.
July 25, 2016: The Italian delegation, displeased with the faulty plumbing and electricity in the Olympic Village, hires its own contractors to fix its athletes' accommodations.
July 26, 2016: Diego Gusman, an Argentine official, points out the water damage in his athletes' rooms at the Olympic Village and comes to the only logical conclusion; it's Brazilian sabotage.
July 27, 2016: A group of protesters finally extinguish the Olympic flame; this time, it's a group of teachers bringing attention to the fact they haven't been paid in more than two months. Officials brush off the stunt, saying "The torch often goes out and is re-lit. The flame is never extinguished."
July 27, 2016: Health experts warn any Olympians whose events take place on Guanabara Bay to keep their mouths shut while in contact with the water. One doctor warns that marathon swimmers will "literally be swimming in human crap."
July 29, 2016: Following a spate of robberies on its delegates in Brazil, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issues an official safety warning to all citizens planning on attending the 2016 Summer Olympics.
July 29, 2016: Chinese hurdler Shi Dongpeng arrives in Rio and in promptly thrown up on by a seemingly drunk man. As he and the camera crew following him to the Olympics, their luggage and production equipment are stolen. The entire scam gets reported to the authorities, but only after a two hour wait since the police are overwhelmed with theft reports.
July 30, 2016: Storms destroy a newly-built ramp at the Olympic sailing venue at Marina da Gloria.
July 31, 2016: Australian athletes are forced from their lodgings in the Olympic Village by a fire, but not because of their building's fire alarms, because those had been deactivated. When they come back they find many of their belongings, including laptops, have been stolen.
August 3, 2016: A study shows that Rio de Janeiro's air is contaminated with over twice the amount of pollutants the World Health Organization deems safe. University of Sao Paulo pathologist Paulo Saldiva estimates approximately 5,400 people died in the city in 2014 due to the terrible air quality. It is worth noting, however, that Rio's air is only 63 percent as polluted as Beijing's air for the 2008 Games.
August 4, 2016: Firefighters have to use bolt cutters to open one of the entrances at Olympic Stadium because a staff member lost the keys prior to a soccer match between Sweden and South Africa.
August 6, 2016: A stray bullet is shot through the equestrian press tent, which is adjacent to a military base. Nobody is injured.
August 7, 2016: After suffering a brutal leg injury during his routine, French gymnast Samir Aït Saïd is dropped by medics who are trying to load him onto an ambulance.
August 9, 2016: A bus carrying media members in Rio is reportedly shot at while departing from an event.
August 10, 2016: While the Olympic diving pool was clear and blue at first, officials woke up on August 10 to discover the water turned green.
August 10, 2016: The Olympic golf course is overrun by giant rodents called capybaras. "They chew down on the grass at night," Mark Johnson, director of international agronomy for the PGA Tour, said. "There are about 30-40 of them inside the course perimeter, but they live here and we play golf here, we co-exist."
August 12, 2016: The Olympic diving pool is closed due to water conditions. One German diver says "the whole building smells like a fart," which probably was not by design.