The 2016 Summer Olympics somehow went off without any major, non-Ryan Lochte-related, incidents. While Rio de Janeiro managed to actually put the event on, now the committee that made it happen is facing crushing debts. At last tally, the committee owed a whopping $32 million, and has until June to settle its accounts with suppliers. There is almost certainly no way that will happen.
Hosting the Olympics has repeatedly been shown as an awful investment for a city and a country. In Brazil, which is facing crippling political and economic crises, it was an even worse idea. It costs billions to put on the Olympics, and the estimates for infrastructure costs alone for the Rio games range from between $15 billion to $20 billion.
For now, the Rio committee is attempting to pay off its suppliers by, “trading them used air conditioners, portable energy units, electrical cables and other random materials instead.”
How bad are things in Rio right now? Sergio Cabral, the region’s former governor and the man who helped the city win the Olympic bid in 2009, is currently in jail. He was arrested in November for allegedly organizing a group that made $66 million in bribes connected to state contracts, some of which had to do with the Olympics. But the story doesn’t end there.
The prison that currently houses Cabral was so under-funded it couldn’t afford mattresses for the inmates. The old mattresses from the Olympic Village were sent to the jail to help out. So Cabral now likely has a mattress from from the Olympic Village while in prison. Pretty sure he didn’t see that one coming when he helped the city earn the rights to host the event.
As the deadline approaches for Rio’s organizing committee to pay its debts, things could get messy. After all, when there’s no money coming in and your country is in the middle of a massive economic downturn, $32 million is a ton of cash to raise.