Preparations have often been chaotic but Rios buildup may be the most disorderly yet and no matter how special the Game a disaster of unprecedented proportions will have already happened
The final days of preparation before the first modern Games in Athens in 1896 offered many of the tropes that still structure Olympic coverage a century afterward. Rumours persisted that the stadium would not be ready on time, leading to a furious exchange of letters in The Times. The New York Times correspondent came to dig for dirt and detected it. There were plenty of old tin cans and rubbish scattered where once the silver Ulysses sparkled to the sea: the orchard of Academe reminded me of picturesque bits in shanty town.
The refurbished stadium for the 1920 Antwerp Game, started simply 15 months beforehand, was finished perilously late. The French occupation of the Ruhr and the flooding of the Seine in the winter of 1923 put Paris 1924 in question. The designer of the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic complex was harried in the local press for shady practices and sweetheart bargains. Los Angeles 1932 was held in the very depth of the great depression. All feeling remarkably familiar narratives , not just from the distant past but from pretty much every Olympic Games since Atlanta 1996.
Yet in April 2014 John Coates, a visit member of the IOC, proclaimed the preparations for the Rio Games the worst ever. Two year later, the already disastrous state of affairs has been conjoined with Brazils sharpest ever economic downturn, the impeachment of the president by a corrupted parliament, the nations most explosive corruption investigation which is cutting a scythe through the political and business class, and the threat of the Zika virus. To this has now been added the Russian doping scandal and the IOCs hapless response to it. Coatess case appears strong but how exactly do the Rio Olympics match up to the past?
Frankly, if Athens could be ready on opening night, anywhere can. Nowhere, even the notoriously late starting Cariocas, have cut it as fine as the Athenians with venues and Olympic spaces. The new Calatrava roof went on to the main arena with merely hours to spare in the construction deadline. That said, Rio is doing its very best to compete by planning to open the metro line to the Olympic park simply four days before the beginning of the Games. In its favour Rio has avoided expensive iconic architecture, opting for the dull, the functional and the temporary. Consequently it is set to produce fewer and less expensive white elephants than the leaders in this field, Athens( 2004) and Beijing( 2008 ).
Read more: www.theguardian.com