The Olympics of ancient Greece was a means for the Greek city-states to prove their supremacy over each without actually going to war. The series of athletic competitions also served as a political forum where representatives from the Greek city-states could bolster economic and military alliances. International bodies like the United Nations now serve as the primary diplomatic forum between the nation-states of the International Community, yet the modern Olympics still projects political overtones. Taking place in one of the globe’s poorest regions, under the cloud of political controversy, the 2016 Rio Olympics will showcase the plight of the world’s disenfranchised.
Above all, the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics is an opportunity for Brazil to be seen and recognized as an equal among world powers. On the one hand, Brazil must act like a rich nation and orchestrate a near flawless performance in order to stay relevant on the world stage as a global power. On the other hand, the Brazilian economy does not sufficiently distribute wealth, i.e. foster economic development, in communities that are plagued by poverty while self-serving, unresponsive governance is the status quo of Brazil. Regrettably, the Olympics will do little to ease poverty or corruption in Brazil; however, it is a venue that can draw the world's attention to these issues.
The Olympics is quite an opportunity for South America's largest, wealthiest country. For the world, it places the focus on an often neglected corner of the globe, which suffers from the extremes of corruption and poverty seen all over the world. Certainly, free trade, the so-called Drug War, and the antics of leaders like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez have garnered the attention of world leaders, yet the International Community's concern for South America has been fleeting. In many respects, this is a product of the United States deciding the world would not interfere in the affairs of our neighbors, i.e. the Monroe Doctrine, while the US and Europe's focus over the past several decades has continually shifted to the Middle East and Asia.
The Olympics is a chance for Brazil, as well as the rest of South America, to draw constructive attention to both their successes as well as the issues they believe are most likely to hinder their future success. When it comes to a national endeavor like the Olympics, the diverse Peoples of Brazil also have a chance to unite around a common source of national pride. Given the sharp divide between the haves and have-nots in Brazil, the feeling that all Brazilians are connected can help those, who have the power to improve their society, see the value in supporting those in need of real opportunity.
What the Olympics can do for the various socioeconomic groups within Brazil is serve as a shared point of interest and passion. When people get to know each other, they often start to take greater interest in others aspects of each others' lives. Although the affluent of Brazil, as well as the global wealthy and Middle Class, cannot be expected to fully comprehend how those living in desperation are affected by their poverty, i.e. what dysfunctions they learn, they can appreciate the scarcity of resources and opportunity the impoverished face. In other words, the focus on poverty and corruption in Brazil can help spark interest in these issues around the world, which can lead to a better understanding of the issues and the development of effective solutions.
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