The symbolic Olympic Flame in Ancient Olympia has been lit and the official countdown to the 2016 Summer Olympics is fewer than 100 days – but the political turmoil in Brazil has some wondering about the safety and preparedness of this year’s games.
The Brazilian Senate voted early Thursday to place President Dilma Rousseff on trial for illegally manipulating fiscal accounts. The vote automatically suspends her from office.
Officials say her possible impeachment may not have a direct impact on the 2016 Rio Games – however demonstrations and public turmoil have the potential to complicate Olympic events.
Here’s what you need to know about the decision and what it could mean for this year’s controversial Games.
1. The IOC says Rousseff’s impeachment won’t hurt Olympic preparations
Arrangements for the games “have now entered into a very operational phase where these kinds of political issues have much less influence than at other stages of organizing the Olympic Games,” said the International Olympic Committee, in April.
After a final inspection in Rio, the IOC said it saw “great progress being made,” despite the political turmoil present in the country.
“We remain confident about the success of the Olympic Games in August,” said the committee.
2. Protests are a potential threat
The massive demonstrations that have occurred both for and against Rousseff have the potential to disrupt athletic events in Rio.
“Millions of Brazilians have taken to the streets to demand her ouster over the institutional corruption and tanking economy,” reports CNN.
3. The Brazilian president plays host at the opening ceremonies
The president’s biggest role at the Olympics is to play host. If Rousseff is impeached she will be replaced by Vice President Michel Temer, who would preside over the opening ceremony.
“The Olympic Games are very well organized as a joint effort between the Rio state and government, the Rio municipal government and with the participation of the federal government. I have no doubt the Olympic Games will be a success, just like they have been in other parts of the world,” Temer told CNN.
4. Rousseff has worked on organizing the Games from the beginning
Rousseff says she was a key player in Olympic prep from the start.
“I would very much like to take part in the Olympic process, because I helped build the effort from day one,” she told CNN in April.
If the senators approve the motion, she will be ousted only three months before the Summer Olympics are scheduled to kick off.
“We worked hard to make the Olympic Games happen. I think we may even be further advanced than was expected,” Rousseff told CNN.
5. Athletic venues will continue being built
According to reports, 98 percent of venues have been built – however ticket sales are comparatively low, with around 60 percent having been sold as of mid-April.
“It’s going to be a different Games, but it will work,” IOC inspector Pat Hickey said.
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