The Peculiarities Of Olympic Games In Rio De Janeiro

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Even though the era of athletics has been left in the past, events such as the Olympic games and sports championships tend to bring up the spirit and become world’s main spotlights. These mega projects are short-term events with fixed-term duration, that usually lead to a long-term social, economic and urban change in the countries which are hosting them . Nowadays, the hosting country seems to become a marketing product, trying to attract but at the same time maintain countries – “clients” that come to form an image, that then will become a world-reference for the country itself. As a result of the continuous megastructure constructions, the mega projects seem to appear with an increasing frequency. Many of these projects are characterized by cost overruns, long delays and conflicts, especially because they affect populations, national economies and the natural environment. Formerly, the cities that hosted such events, used and constructed smaller scale infrastructures that were focused on the necessary supply of the event, and did not become instruments of power or investment towards the cities. Unfortunately, this scenario is not the same for Rio de Janeiro’s “mega” plan as the today’s capitalist exploitation and gentrification not only dominate the natural resources and the city itself but get to extend to the human nature and most importantly the human rights.

Main Body

The implementation of the Olympic games mega event in Rio de Janeiro guided urban interventions for the upcoming years and promoted many kinds of transformations. Most of the urban redevelopment that took place was on low income neighborhoods, slums, areas near swamps and historical monuments that have been unexploited, though one of the biggest issues in the city is mobility. The major territorial strategy that followed for improvement was the creation of four “Olympic clusters” across the city, dividing the impact of the interventions in the areas of: Barra, Deodoro, Copacabana and Maracanã. In these areas, are hosted new and renovated spaces, villages for athletes and a series of some other new services related to the Olympic games, as well as a new high-speed line for buses referred as the BRT system (Bus Rapid Transit), the metro extension, and a large project based on the redevelopment of the old harbor in the city center.

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Thus, in more detail, the first of the developing projects was the extension of the metro line to the area of Barra da Tijuca and its connection to the southern part of the city. The metro network is undeniably the most important adjustment in a city of millions of people. Subsequently, the “Duplicacao elevado Joa” which stands for the “duplication” of the road that links the southern zone (Copacabana, Ipanema) with Barra da Tijuca, improving significantly the traffic problem by and to the Barra area, increasing by 30% the transit of the cars. Third, the BRT system, the idea of this new network was based on the previous experience of Bogotá, but still has not reached the point of minimizing the number of cars on the road until today. BRT was created due to the impossibility of extending the metro to the western zone as the particular geomorphology of soil (lakes, granites) could not make it feasible. Alongside, the “Acro Metropolitano” project which does not concern the metropolitan center, but the peripheral areas around Rio. The extent of the new motorway is now 72km and links the area (favela) Duque de Caxias, next to Rio International airport (northern tip) to the harbor of Itaguaí (southern tip). Finally, the demolition of the “perimetral” network and the opening of two underground roads, changed completely the port area and extended the city towards the sea. This project was technically related to the restoration of the entire harbor zone that took place in the area of “Porto Maravilha”, resulting the redevelopment of its 5 million square meters of public land including historical buildings of the industrial age.

Although “Porto Maravilha” is a central area bordering with a middle-class region, it has been remaining degraded for decades. One way of making the new services and the region more attractive to investors, was through the construction of two new museums, one of them the “Museo de amanha” (museum of tomorrow), work of the famous architect Santiago Calatrava, that became the new landmark of the city. The other way was through eliminating the less desirable uses and users. On the perimeter of Porto Maravilha, they voted and forced the removal of 8 favelas, some of which were there for almost 20 years. Also, 535-low income families were displaced from the region. The current inhabitants have lost resources associated with the area, as well as the possibility of occupation of the many abandoned and unused buildings and the low rents that used to exist until then.

Furthermore, in the region of Barra, where the Olympic park is situated, as mentioned in the book “SMH 2016: Removals in the Olympic city” the journalist Lena Azevedo and the architect Lucas Faulhaber, estimate that between 2009 and 2013, 70,000 residents were forced to leave their homes, in most of the cases without any compensations. Primarily, they were people living in favelas that got demolished even though they had historical value. More specifically, in the area hosting now the Olympic Park, more than 275 families, out of the 800 that lived in the favela, were given a discharge order. Through constant claims and demonstrations some of them, no more than 20,000, got relocated in makeshift shelters that the municipality of Rio reluctantly rebuilt. Inside the Olympic park, from the total of 300 families that lived, only six managed to stay. For “image” reasons and “nice scenes” during the events, the state demolished their homes and built new ones.

The Favelas in Rio de Janeiro have experienced a complete disruption of population and culture, in order to “make space” for the new “richer” inhabitants. The expansion of the city is no longer feasible, and the favelas not only occupy a large part in central areas, but also really often are located right next to the more expensive ones. Even if the rich try to detach from the poor, the formation of a favela next to them is inevitable, as the new, huge, walled rich complexes offer a range of maintenance and cleaning services that are again served by the financially lower strata, and so gradually there is the necessity of relocation close to their workplace. It is an interdependence that cannot change. What is changing, is the ingression of foreigners and the middle class in the housing market of Rio’s “nonviolent” favelas. Therefore, the “privileges” that the residents used to have due to their non-inclusion in the state (exemption from taxes, electricity, water and land titles) are now gone.

As the value and popularity of the city grows with new construction and business opportunities, the real estate prices have risen dramatically. As a result, entire socio-economic groups, lost their ability to live in favelas they once called home, and are now struggling with rent increases, displacements and enforcements to move to more dangerous favelas. American researcher and former resident of Santa Marta, Charles Heck, finds that the gentrification in Rio de Janeiro, forms a strategic plan that will allow a reduction of 5% in favelas in the period 2013-2016. “The urbanization has focused primarily on land titles and new businesses rather than health, sanitation, education and other infrastructure”, said Heck.

Returning to the Marxist approach, it should be noted, that the right of land ownership is not a concept with a given and unchanging content, instead it is determined by a set of institutions and policies that are developed for it by the public sector in every particular society and historical conjuncture. Through these institutions and polices, the level of “the price paid for the use of land” (rent) is also formed. The Marxist rent theory, in Rio’s case of favela gentrification aims directly to exploitation and profit-making at the expense of the poor. The amounting difference of rent, according to Smith is the key of understanding gentrification, since in order to generate profit, the poverty must be sufficiently high so that real estate principal can buy the land cheaply, pay for construction costs, repay bank loans and sell the outcome at a price that ensures good profits. In fact, Smith’s approach is epitomized on the geography of principal’s movement in the urban space, through which the causes of gentrification are highlighted, with an emphasis on the production processes of the urban space. The critique of the rent gap theory as the only explanation of gentrification begun in the late 1980s and was based on the argument that in this process, apart from the principal, people are involved as “social aggregates” who “consume” the produced space, and eventually materialize gentrification into the field of the city and everyday life. Such an approach recognizes consumerism as the predominant feature of modern urban culture and focuses on how consumption affects the organization of space. Capitalism, Marx said, turns anything into a commodity. And so it happens. As soon as everything is commodified: Education, Health, Welfare, Culture, Ideology, the man himself and even his impoverishment.


To conclude, the Brazilian state has shown the toughest face of capitalization through its neoliberal policy. The Brazilian government, which exacerbates the social inequalities, diminishes the world, marginalizes the masses living in the favelas, suppresses all forms of resistance, imposes the immense austerity. All in the name of attraction and money. The Olympic games do not promote any “abstract” culture. They promote modern “values” and the “morality” of capitalism, they are part of the dominant ideology and on top of the modern imperialist world. The slogan “citus, altius, fortius” are values of commerce, ostensibly “moral” competition and extreme individualism. And while in socialism people progress, and the human spirit becomes the main “attraction”, in capitalism (and “olympism” as a consequence) the person becomes the main sight. Individuality, singular profitableness and human idealization of the people as an individuals are some of the most characteristic elements in the urban superstructure. The Hollywood superstar actress, the music idol, the extreme performer, the super athlete with the unrealistic performance. This is not about a “new type of man”, but an overcrowded personality that produces great added value, wearing the best brand of clothes and shoes. They are the culmination of globalization’s ideology and at the same time the instrument for the deification of the capitalist class, showing the capitalist relationship with the future. A relationship that is then confirmed again by the consolidation of repeatability of the event every four years. In conclusion, the 2016 Olympics could be defined as a great celebration in the name of the capital and the elite, as the main “event” has been put at the expense of the low-income strata...And if sport in the antiquity, shapes body and spirit, passing the message of truce, today with its commercialization teaches us how the profit of the five Olympic circles will be distributed.

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The Peculiarities Of Olympic Games In Rio De Janeiro. (2022, February 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from
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