Commentary by Jeff Burgar
Crime in the streets. Roving gangs threatening and robbing tourists. A strange mosquito virus causing babies to be born with shrunken heads. A horde of doped up atheletes coming to town to beat the pants and panties off their non-drugged competition. Filthy swimming waters, plugged with untreated sewage. Tens of thousands of unsold tickets. New stadiums, housing, roadways and transport all woefully behind schedule in construction.
All this was the coming disaster that was going to be Olympic Rio, 2016. At least, according to all the news reports we were swamped with leading up to the past few weeks.
Even after events started, there are reports. Strange green swimming pools. Accusations flying of crooked judges, and if not crooked, totally incompetent. One high ranking Olympic official accused of scamming a few million dollars worth of event tickets. Some atheletes cooking up a story of being robbed at gunpoint.
Yes there was crime. Yes there was a Zika virus. Yes there was polluted water. We will likely be hearing stories of all this for months to come.
Before these 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, if all stories were to be believed, smart money would be betting these Olmpics would never take place. They would be a disaster. More than half the events wouldn’t happen because facilities would not be ready. More than half the competitors would be living in shantytown favelas because the Olympic village would not be finished. Nearby hotel rooms were packed. Other available rooms were too far away and the Olympic roadways and trains were not built. Disaster was imminent!
Settle down folks.
Let’s count the billions of dollars involved. Count the 50,000 or more volunteers and paid officials and representatives. Count the hundreds of atheletes. Count all the projects.
There is a simple truth here.
Whether it be the person with a shovel in his or her hand, working to build a roadway for the Games. The clerk in some high-up Olympic office. A second or tenth-tier Olympic official. A weary volunteer getting up at four A.M. to make their shift at one of the gates. And then pulling an extra shift when somebody else didn’t show up.
There are tens of thousands of these people. Unpaid, or not paid enough, they are the real heroes and heroinse of not just the Olympics, but of all events around the world in which people volunteer their time, or go the extra mile to make events a success. It can be an event
as simple as a local bake sale, a pow-wow, rodeo, mud derby, quad rally, or as complicated and massive as the Olympics. Without wonderful volunteers, who always seem to step forward when the chips are down, these things just do not happen.
Rio 2016 is no exception. A remarkable achievement for the city, the country and of course, the people. Let’s not count the few things that went wrong. Let’s count everything that went right.