Further to our previous Olympics article, with just over two weeks to go, how are final preparations panning out in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil?

Tickets

Ticket sales have been slow and since 1st June the local Brazilian sales office was opened to fans around the rest of the world. Tomorrow the final batch of 100,000 tickets will be put on that site. 

There are still 1.7 million tickets available in total – a huge 28% unsold with only two weeks to go. Ticket prices range from 40 BRL for a sports event up to the most expensive opening ceremony ticket 4,600 BRL. Under twos can sit on your lap for free.

The offer means that the rest of the world can now buy tickets in the Brazilian real currency which reduces the price for most due to exchange rate fluctuations and lack of add-on service fees.

As Rio ticket director Donovan Ferreti said to the Associated Press, “This is a great deal for someone coming to Brazil. Now the exchange rate is in their favour.” Ferreti is expecting that the budget estimate of raising 1.045 billion reals through ticket sales will be met. (At today’s exchange rate that estimate equals 245 million pounds or 323 million dollars).

However, it is not such good news for people that bought their tickets early. As an example for those buying in the US dollar currency, an agreement was reached over a year ago between Olympic organisers and ticket merchandisers to fix the exchange rate at 2.35 reals:1 USD. Since then the rate has moved to 3.2362:1 – an improvement of 37% for someone exchanging dollars for reals.

To put that into perspective: a 70 BRL ticket, which is what the majority sell for, would have cost 30 dollars plus the 20% fee that official ticket sellers are authorised to charge, totaling 36 USD.

At today’s exchange rate, purchasing the same 70 BRL ticket on the official website would convert to just 21 dollars and no fee.

Athletes pulling out

The Zika virus outbreak has caused grave concern among spectators and athletes alike. In February 2016 Zika was classified as a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The virus spreads through mosquito bites and is primarily a concern for pregnant ladies and unborn children. More than 150 doctors and professors wrote to the WHO asking that the Games be postponed or moved. 

Rory McIlroy is one of many to withdraw from the Games due to the virus, even though it is the first time golf has been on the events listing in 112 years. Rory said "After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. After speaking with those closest to me, I've come to realise that my health and my family's health comes before anything else. Even though the risk of infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk nonetheless and a risk I am unwilling to take."    

17 athletes have withdrawn from the Olympic Games to date due to the Zika virus threat.

And athletes not allowed in

Doping accusations came to the forefront last November and the entire Russian track and field team was suspended from all international competitions. Following a meeting of the IAAF Council (International Association of Athletics Federations) on June 17th this decision was upheld and they were formally banned from taking part in the 2016 Olympics, Russia having failed to reform its anti-doping policies. 

There have now been calls for a collective ban on all Russian athletes from competing in the Games. This follows Monday’s McLaren report, which shockingly stated that urine samples of Russian sports competitors had been manipulated during a four-year state-sponsored doping programme.

This McLaren report was commissioned by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) after Grigory Rodchenkov, former head of Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory, claimed that he was forced by the Russian government to dope dozens of athletes in the run up to the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. Russia as hosting nation then went on to win 33 medals in total, 13 of them gold. (Grigory also alleges that doping took place before big competitions in 2012, 2013 and 2015).

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) is seeking legal advice before it makes any formal decision.

Olympic vibe

The sports venues are finally complete after worrying delays and with foreigners starting to arrive, decorations are up and an Olympic vibe is starting to be felt. Many are worried about the threat of terrorism, which is a relatively new concern for Brazilians, but the 85,000-strong security force will give some comfort. 

Rio 2016 President Carlos Arthur Nuzman asserted “We are obviously very proud that we are ready to welcome the world and we can also see the transformation of Rio everywhere we go…We will deliver great Games.”