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Most Brazilians think the Olympics are not worth it, a poll shows

With just over two weeks to go before the start of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, a new poll shows that nearly two thirds of Brazilians think the event will do the country more harm than good.
Imagen por Silvia Izquierdo/AP Photo

With just over two weeks to go before the start of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, a new poll shows that nearly two thirds of Brazilians think the event will do the country more harm than good.

The poll, published in the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, makes explicit widespread public skepticism about the Games that are already facing a mountain of problems.

The troubles range from corruption allegations related to the infrastructure built for the Olympics, to the country's acute economic crisis that is impacting both the organization of the event and the city's services. There are also concerns about possible terrorist attacks, as well as a renewed focus on the city's long-standing security problems that range from rampant rates of common crime to the large numbers of people killed by police officers.


Then there is the steady trickle of athletes announcing they are staying away from the Rio Games for fear of being infected with the Zika virus.

This week's poll, conducted by the Datafolha institute, found that five out of ten Brazilians surveyed said they are opposed to their country hosting the Games at all, and only four out of ten said they are in favor. That's double the opposition registered by another poll by the same institute back in 2013.

Part of the problem appears to be the sheer cost of holding the event, which a study released earlier this month by researchers from Oxford University said is already 51 percent higher than the original budget.

Funding issues led the federal government to announce in March that it was cutting $500 million from the security budget for the Games, including anti-terrorism training. Last month, the Rio de Janeiro state authorities declared a "state of calamity" in order to get an extra $892 million of federal cash.

The declaration came as public sector workers from the city stepped up claims that funding had become so tight there was not enough money to refuel police cars or supply the hospitals that will be responsible for taking care of the 500,000 visitors expected.

Police officers, firefighters, and paramedics held a demonstration in Rio's international airport at the end of June to complain about late paychecks and poor working conditions. "Welcome to Hell," read the banner they held up in English. "Whoever comes to Rio de Janeiro won't be safe."


Related: The Cops Trying to 'Pacify' Rio's Favelas Are Psychologically Scarred

Meanwhile, corruption investigations are currently underway into allegations there were dirty deals involved in the construction of both Olympic venues and local infrastructure such as the extension of a subway line and the refurbishment of the port.

None of this has stopped Brazil's interim President Michel Temer insisting that Rio, and the country, are ready for the inauguration of the Games on August 5.

"Brazil is ready to receive all of the visitors who will be enjoying the pleasure of watching the world's elite international sports athletes compete," Temer said in a statement earlier this month. "This will not be Brazil's first opportunity to show the world its capacity for organization, and to welcome visitors warmly to a secure environment."

Temer took over from President Dilma Rousseff last June when she was suspended from office pending an impeachment trial by the senate over alleged manipulation of the country's accounts after her reelection in 2014. The impeachment trial is due to culminate during the Olympics. It is taking place amid a broader political crisis in which leading figures from all major parties are involved in major corruption scandals.

Related: 'Welcome to Hell': Rio police greet visitors five weeks before the Olympics

Follow Alan Hernández on Twitter: @alanpasten