International games highlight government weakness
The Pan-American Games this year turned out to be quite interesting. I was visiting my family in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where it was held, and honestly, I hardly recognized the city.
The government was working for everyone. They built the Pan-American Villa, a mini-city where players and delegations were housed. They paved multiple roads. They built stadiums out of nothing.
The government actually worked, but only because the whole world was watching.
Tourists were everywhere. I couldn’t go anywhere without hearing a foreign language: French, English, Spanish, you name it, it was there. Airports and hotels were packed, and taxis increased their fare prices because the city was so overcome by visitors.
But fiascos were still present, even among all of this government involvement.
The first disaster wasn’t even national. Before the games began, during a press conference, an American delegate wrote "Welcome to Congo!" on a white board.
The Brazilian press had a field day with the guy.
The African Games were happening at the same time -†but across the Atlantic. See, one would figure that a person who is part of the delegation would know exactly where he is. And at the same, the Americans were lodged in the best villa. The least they could do was have a little respect for the country that was housing them.
The second, which was more a contingent of disasters, was the crash of an Airbus plane in the streets of Sao Paulo. It was the biggest aviation accident in the history of Brazil. After that disaster, the whole system started to crumble. The biggest airport in the country was closed. Flights were delayed. People were angry, sad -†and even dead. The president came out in a press conference saying he was afraid of flying. People were fired. The thing to understand, though, is that Brazil never had an infrastructure big enough to support the amount of flights that took place because of the Pan-American Games. The system was crumbling since last year, and it just recently began to accelerate. I wonder how it will be if Brasil ever host the World Cup, as they are trying to do.
The third disaster was -†well, a glimpse into the desperation of the Cuban nationals. During and after their respective matches, a few Cuban players defected and went into hiding in other Brazilian states. The Cuban press was trying to spin this situation, but we all knew that they were desperate. In fact, I couldn’t quite understand how the players were found. I’m not sure if people were really looking for them. And as soon as they were found, half of the Cuban delegation was called to return to Cuba, apparently there was a "storm" and they were afraid the airplane would be caught in the center of it.
I’m confused about Communism in general. What kind of system makes a player defect from his country during international games? Keep in mind that players shouldn’t be thrown into the mix of political ideologies, especially during a tournament. It seems to me that Fidel Castro was more afraid of defections than the storm.
Many of the players returned in the end, but they still had games to compete in. They could have stayed longer instead of being rushed out.
A day or two later, the rest of the Cubans were gone. They weren’t even there for the medals ceremony, and not until they arrived in Cuba did they apologize for deserting the game.
Oh, and there never was a storm in the end.
Cunha, a communication senior, can be reached via [email protected]