22 November 2011

Checking in. Tudo bem? Key-toe'chimo, bri'gado.

Checking back into the craziness of Rio and not too much has changed. The new Minister of Sport, Aldo Rebelo, has been given extraordinary powers and handed the circus over to his cronies and family. Not only did he appoint his personal “people of confidence” , Dilma transferred the APO to the MdoE. That’s a Brazilian acronym to describe the Ministry of Sport, though it could also be MdoE/MoS, just to clarify things and ensure employment for stamp makers. The APO is the acronym for the Autoridade Público Olímpico. This is the body that is ostensibly in control of the R$30 billion budget and the agency that will direct all Olympic-related building projects. All of a sudden, it’s under the new minister. Here we go again, de novo.

FIFA goes along its way, keeping the idiots in charge as long as possible. Can someone please offer Sepp Blatter another job? How about washing dishes in a Brazilian prison? If you haven’t seen Andrew Jenning’s recent stuff, check out www.transparencyinsport.org.  This part might anger Eike Batista, Brazil’s richest, though not most-flatulent man: Ol ‘ Sepp gave the 2014 ticketing contract to his nephew on a no-bid basis. This might rankle the Eikster who said not long ago that if we wanted to get a ticket to the World Cup we would “have to talk to him”.  Let confusion reign.

Where does one begin to explain the differences between Rio de Janeiro and Vancouver? Winter and Summer? Canada and Brazil? South East Atlantic and North West Pacific? Sun People and Cloud People?  How about the airports? Jumpin’ Jaysus. The 40 step escalators at Galeão don’t work. Walking into Vancouver, you passed through a Disney-landesque version of a Rain Forest, which was, despite and because of the Disney factor, impressive and well executed. I thought it was cool, and gave a sense of the natural world one is entering beyond the airport. At Galeão, one also gets an sense of the external, without having to leave the airport.


Rio de Janeiro
It is hard to say which city has a more or less spectacular setting. It’s staggeringly beautiful  In either case, though one could argue that Vancouver has much better access to its environmental amenities. But please, Brazil’s beaches. The one beach I visited was clothing optional, very rocky, and with very cold water. Vancouver, where only the confident wade.

As pequenas barcas de Vancouver. Por que não na Lagoa ou Praca XV - SDU - Urca?
For public transport, is there a better central city area than Vancouver for bus and bike? Water Taxis? They’re as expensive and fancy as a gold tooth, but a great, efficient ride. Very nice, and even in wet, cold weather a good means to get about central Vancouver. I didn’t get to test the inter and intra city ferry system, nor the ferries out to Vancouver Island, but I have a sneaking suspicion that their bike policy compares favorably with that of Barcas S.A.

So, Rio has some serious work to do if it is going to make 50 years progress in 5, again. During my time in Vancouver, Rocinha was occupied by BOPE and MPERJ, OGlobo and Sky TV. Though of course too complex to completely wrap one’s head around, the occupation of Rocinha caused a jump in real-estate prices there and in neighboring São Conrado, an already wealthy enclave. It was widely reported that the marketing bobbleheads that pass for democratically elected leaders were well pleased with the international media attention. There’s no such thing as bad press, right? Not when OGlobo is on your team.

Things are too busy to do more than one or two more posts before the end of the year. One must feed the academic beast some tasty bits from time to time. If you’re just testing the cool waters of geostadia.com for the first time, starting from September 2009 you can find articles related to the Rio Olympics. I enjoy highlighting life’s absurdities and contradictions.  Rio de Janeiro is a seemingly inexhaustible font of inspiration. I enjoy a good circus but don’t want to be a clown. For those who are interested in a sample of my soccer coverage from North Carolina,  click here.  

One question that I would like to pose to those who see (or saw) the Brazilian mega-events through the rose-tinted lenses of dispassionate reason: Why did anyone expect that the negative elements of the Olympics were going to be mitigated in a country and city known for huge socio-economic inequalities, weak democratic institutions, oligarchic business practices, and newly deep pockets?

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