27 Tamuz 5776
The 2016 Olympic Games are set to begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from Rosh Chodesh Av (Aug 5th) until after Shabbat Nachamu (Aug. 21st). Yes, that means the Israeli Jews who participate will be doing so thoughout the 9 Days of Av and the fast itself. But, hey! Giving up on Judaism is a small price to pay for being counted as one with the gentile nations of the world, no?
"The modern Olympic Games were founded in 1894 when Pierre de Coubertin sought to promote international understanding through sporting competition."
It's purely a Western invention.
"...The 1896 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the I Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event which was celebrated in Athens, Greece, from 6 to 15 April 1896. It was the first Olympic Games held in the Modern era. About 100,000 people attended for the opening of the games. The athletes came from 14 different nations, with most coming from Greece. Although that Greece had the most athletes, the U.S. finished with the most champions. 11 Americans placed first in their events vs. the 10 from Greece. Ancient Greece was the birthplace of the Olympic Games, consequently Athens was perceived to be an appropriate choice to stage the inaugural modern Games." (Source)
From such noble beginnings, look what it has come to...
Welcome To Rio: Olympic Village Catches Fire, Athletes Robbed, & Water "Teeming With Dangerous Viruses"
As the Olympic Games are set to get underway in Rio de Janeiro, the host country is experiencing a couple of "minor glitches." Already reports have come in of gas leaks in athlete rooms (rooms which the Australians have labeled "uninhabitable"), athletes being robbed, a collapse of the main boat ramp intended for use in sailing competitions and a minor problem with water quality which an AP study found to be "contaminated with raw human sewage teeming with dangerous viruses and bacteria."
On the water issue, The Associated Press commissioned a 16-month study on the waterways of Rio which revealed consistent and dangerously high levels of viruses from pollution and untreated human sewage. In fact, the AP's tests revealed that Copacabana Beach, where the marathon and triathlon swimming are to be held and thousands of tourists are likely to take a dip, exceeded California's limit for fecal coliforms (aka poop) by 5x over 13 months of testing. In addition, tests found that infectious adenovirus readings turned up at nearly 90 percent of the test sites over 16 months of testing. Dr. Valerie Harwood, Chair of the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida, reflected on the test results:
"That's a very, very, very high percentage. Seeing that level of human pathogenic virus is pretty much unheard of in surface waters in the U.S. You would never, ever see these levels because we treat our waste water. You just would not see this."
When asked what athletes could do to protect themselves from illness at the games, Dr. Harwood responded very simply:
"Don't put your head under water."
As if reports of raw sewage in the water wasn't enough for Olympic sailors, the main ramp of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics sailing venue partially collapsed Saturday, a little over a week before it is to be used for competition. The Rio 2016 Committee said the ramp will need to "undergo repairs" while members of sailing delegations said the structure was destroyed and would have to be completely redone.
Meanwhile, back at the Olympic village, Australian athletes described rooms as "uninhabitable" after reports surfaced of a gas leaks and exposed wiring. If that weren't bad enough, a fire started by an employee in one of the buildings was apparently used as cover to rob some Australian athletes of their team shirts and a laptop.
Well, at least everyone will be safe, right? Apparently, not so much. According to sources, Brazil is being forced to bring in 3,000 national guard members to assist with security at the games after a security company’s last-minute admission that it failed to hire enough workers to man gates and operate X-ray machines. Artel Recursos Humanos, a small company which won the $5mm security contract for the games in spite of no previous experience with security contracts (hmmmm), apparently only managed to hire 500 employees instead of the 3,400 guaranteed under the contract.
Notice, they don't even include the most talked-about threat to the Olympic visitors - exposure to the Zika virus - and its spread to every participating country.
It's a microcosm of the global condition. And no one can say they didn't know.