Brazil must capitalize on successful Olympic momentum

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Brazilian singer and actress Mariene de Castro sings as the Olympic flame slowly extinguishes behind her on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016 at Maracan in Brazil. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

By Sanaa Khan, Columnist

Drought, pollution, political corruption, crime rates and the Zika virus — all things the media ensured to inform us about in the months leading up to the Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

There was an incredible amount of negativity surrounding the host nation, as people questioned if Brazil had the resources and ability to host the Olympics in the first place. Brazil’s own president, Dilma Rousseff, who played a major role in bidding and prepping for the Olympics, was even suspended and impeached just a few months before the opening ceremony, a party she didn’t get to attend.

With news outlets and talk shows serving as a constant reminder of those issues, it felt like the Olympics could have been cancelled at any moment.

But clearly the International Olympic Committee, whose sole purpose is to put on the Olympics, wasn’t as concerned as American news outlets because the games were still on. After 16 sport-filled days in Rio, it was safe to say the 2016 Olympic Games were a success and, more importantly, not the disaster that the media spent countless hours predicting.

Events were not interrupted by violence or any angry mobs, infrastructure did not collapse and dozens of athletes did not get sick from the infested waters. If success is simply defined as not failing, then Rio was no exception.

However, Brazil did more than just pass the public’s exceedingly low expectations. Summer ’16 gave birth to inspiring stories like those of Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky and solidified the legacies of Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt.

Besides highlighting individual efforts’, like the Olympics before it, the Rio Olympics shared with the world the athletes’ stories of struggle and success from nations who may not always be given a chance in the spotlight.

In the case of refugee Olympian Yusra Mardini, her story, as well as the stories of the other athletes competing for the first competing refugee team, shed light on a global issue affecting millions around the world. Countries like Fiji and Singapore were were able to win their first ever gold medal.

To top it all off for Brazil itself, international soccer star Neymar scored the winning penalty shot for the home nation against Germany, earning Brazil’s first ever gold in Olympic soccer – a sport that seems more important than life itself for many Brazilians.

Brazil — in the midst of a recession, political turmoil and a global health crisis — held its own and successfully pulled off the Olympics. Could the Olympics in Brazil have gone more smoothly, especially for the Brazilian population itself? Of course. However, did the Olympics carry on successfully despite the haters? Yes, indeed.

From the opening to the closing ceremony, Brazil proved itself worthy as a host nation. But with Olympic pressures now behind them, it’s now up to Brazil to prove itself capable of addressing the nation’s pressing and more critical issues such as its economy, poverty and national health.

With so much time spent in the media going over these problems plaguing the nation, maybe publicity and public pressure will be what gives Brazil a major push to rise up to the challenge and work toward solutions.

Here’s hoping the upcoming Rio Paralympics can be just as successful, once again, despite the focus on controversy (such as the ban on Russian athletes). The Olympic Games are meant to be a time when athletes, and in turn nations, come together to compete no matter what may be going on in the world at the time. And in true Olympic spirit, the media should follow suit and spend more time covering achievement than failure.

Sanaa is a sophomore in Business.

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