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Rio is looking like a less-than-appealing place to watch the Olympics — and the news coming out of the host city seems to be getting worse every day. Yesterday, some beachgoers stumbled upon human body parts that had washed up on the shore — right next to the Olympic Beach Volleyball Arena. In all, a passerby found a dismembered foot and another body part (that’s still unidentified). The cause of the victim’s death is all speculation at this point, but it’s pretty embarrassing for the host country just weeks away from the Opening Ceremony.
Although Rio de Janeiro is a bustling city full of culture and adventure, following this most recent incident, coupled with other things going on, it’s probably in your best interest to watch the games from the comfort of your own home. Here are five reasons why:
According to a report from the Mexico Citizens’ Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice, Brazil is home to 21 of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world. Although Rio didn’t make the list, the city’s homicide rate per 100,000 was 18.6. Leading up to the Olympics, national media outlets have been covering the crime in Rio — in late 2015, more than 20 people were detained on a beach by gangs, and of course, there are the city’s favelas, although they are less dangerous than they used to be.
Authorities have pointed out that the murder rate in Rio has been dropping due to increased policing, and crime was contained when the city hosted part of the World Cup in 2014. However, with so many unknowns, and the most recent body part discovery on the beach just in front of an Olympic venue, there’s reason to be hesitant about attending for your safety alone.
While there are plenty of event tickets — from soccer to gymnastics, swimming and track and field — there aren’t enough hotels to temporarily house the influx of Olympics attendees who are about to flood Rio. By this point and especially as the Opening Ceremony draws nearer, lodging is nearly impossible to find. The city is home to two SPG properties, one Hyatt, five Marriotts and one Hilton property — and all were sold out during a search I did on select dates during the Olympics. During those same sample dates, a search on Kayak resulted in few decent-looking hotels for less than $500 per night.
By now, you’ve probably heard about Zika and the impact it can have on pregnant women. Several athletes have dropped out from participating in the Olympics, including golfers like Jason Day, Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy. The CDC has a Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions warning for the South American country and is advising those who could be exposed to the virus to cover exposed skin and use insect repellents, among other warnings. Not only are the athletes worried about their health (and safety, in general), but those in attendance, especially at outdoor events, have reason to be concerned about the Zika virus.
4. The Event Itself
Earlier this week, the acting governor of Rio de Janeiro informed people that the Olympics could be a “big failure” because the state is out of money — not something those who are looking to go to the Games are excited to hear. Earlier this month, the state declared an official emergency and requested a federal bailout, but it still has yet to receive any money. Without this additional funding, the police presence could be cut, further putting the safety of those in attendance — and athletes — at risk.
5. Border Security
In January, Brazil announced that tourists from the US, Australia, Canada and Japan would be able to enter the country’s borders for up to 90 days from June 1 through September 18 without a visa. While this is great — the visas normally come with a $160 application fee — it’s possible that the security of the border could be at risk. Because people can enter the country without the government looking into the backgrounds of visitors to the same extent it has in the past, terrorism and other violence could definitely be a concern.
While the Olympics are sure to be a great event for the spectacle and Games themselves, you’re probably best off watching from the comfort of your own home. Heading to Rio for the Games is cause for concern — from safety to logistical and financial challenges. But while you might want to skip Rio during the Olympics, there are plenty of other places in the country to visit while taking advantage of the visa waiver.
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