RIO DE JANIERO – While the focus is now mostly on the athletes, Rio is not as bright and sunny as organizers would hope outside the Olympic venues.
Global National reporter Jeff Semple tells Winnipeg’s Morning News he’s seen a lot of intense, sometimes violent protests.
“We were at one over the weekend where we saw police and protesters shoving each other. Police had to use tear gas in a couple of instances. It is really a reminder of the tensions that continue to surround these Games, which cost the equivalent of $15-billion spent by a country that’s in the depths of one of its worst recessions in history.”
Long lines also plagued many events, with varying results. Semple says some people didn’t even get to see the events they paid to watch, while in other spots security just gave up and let everyone in without checking them.
Even with those problems, many events aren’t getting a lot of spectators.
“We are continuing to see venues with a lot of empty seats, which might reflect the concerns going into the Games, everything from the Zika virus to concerns about street crime and pollution,” Semple explains. “We’ll have to wait and see, in terms of the final count, but just anecdotally, looking at some of the stands, there are a lot of empty seats in many of these venues.”
Other off-the-field issues with the Games over the weekend included a stray bullet hitting a media tent and police detonating a stray bag left at the finish line of a cycling event.