All eyes on Olympic security as Rio de Janeiro marks one month to go video

AFP

Police officers greet travellers in Rio international airport's arrival hall with banners reading "Welcome to Hell," warning that security cannot be guaranteed in the city.

There's a new vibe in the Olympic host city - but not the one the organisers hoped for.

One month out from the opening ceremony, with the venues all but complete - including a monstrous Rio 2016 megastore on the white sand of Copacabana Beach - the stress in the city continues, as violent shootouts and picketing police steal the spotlight.

"The excitement is very big," Rio 2016 president Carlos Nuzman assured international media on Tuesday (local time), at an event marking one month till the opening ceremony. "The Games could start today. Everything is ready."

Unpaid police protest at the airport in Rio with banners and a doll representing a victim of violent crime in the city.

Unpaid police protest at the airport in Rio with banners and a doll representing a victim of violent crime in the city.

But not all residents are thrilled to be playing host. 

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Olympic and Paralympic Games mascots Vinicius and Tom pose at the Rio 2016 megastore on Copacabana Beach.
BUDA MENDES/GETTY IMAGES

Olympic and Paralympic Games mascots Vinicius and Tom pose at the Rio 2016 megastore on Copacabana Beach.

There's growing concern about Rio's security situation - unpaid police officers are protesting at the international airport, warning visitors they aren't safe, as street crime hits an 11-year high

On Tuesday morning, a group of a few dozen protesters marched through the central city, demanding heads roll over the "state of calamity" declared in Rio two weeks ago, as the wider state ran out of money and warned of a "total collapse" of public services ahead of the Olympics.

A second protest - dubbed "Olympic Calamity" - will follow later in the day, with its focus the spending on the Games at the expense of the city's poorer residents.

Meanwhile, organisers are doing their best to allay the international community's concerns over the Games' security, ahead of the official security operation at the Olympic venues being launched later on Tuesday.

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Mayor Eduardo Paes - who, a day earlier, told CNN the wider state was doing a "terrible, horrible job" of security - insisted the Games will be safe.

"We are getting used to improving the security. We are living in a very challenging time," he said, adding that he hadn't meant to criticise the state government.

Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman is confident that Brazilians are excited about the Olympics.
LAURA MCQUILLAN/STUFF.CO.NZ

Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman is confident that Brazilians are excited about the Olympics.

Paes said Rio's "very bad moment" was poised to improve since the Brazilian government last week delivered a R$2.9 billion (NZ$1.2b) loan to ensure the security at the Games - and to pay police officers owed months worth of backpay.

In an hour-long speech that focused less on marking the month-to-go milestone, and more on lashing media that gave Rio unfavourable coverage, Paes reiterate that the Games will leave the city better off, with temporary stadiums set to be transformed into new schools, alongside new infrastructure, and public transport links that will travel times in half for residents of outer-lying suburbs.

The sporting venues are almost entirely complete, although the velodrome still requires a small amount of fine tuning.

The bigger concern for Rio 2016 itself is filling the stadiums - 72 per cent of tickets are sold, from a target of 92 per cent.

But Nuzman says that doesn't mean the public's not behind the Games. 

"It's normal here that a lot of people, they leave for the last minute. It happens in several Olympics, the last one it was the same."

Rio de Janeiro's mayor Eduardo Paes has been critical of the state's handling of security for the Games.
LAURA MCQUILLAN/STUFF.CO.NZ

Rio de Janeiro's mayor Eduardo Paes has been critical of the state's handling of security for the Games.

He said Rio had shaken up the Olympic model, and would prove to the world that developing countries could do just as good a hosting job as any.

"This is the greatest transformation in the history of the Olympic Games," Nuzman said.

"This is a chance for different regions of the world and ... the continents that were never supposed to organise the Games."

National Force soldiers patrol Maracana Stadium ahead the Olympics.
RICARDO MORAES/REUTERS

National Force soldiers patrol Maracana Stadium ahead the Olympics.

 - Stuff

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