PtG Article 29.06.2016

Rio 2016: The strike of police officers and fears about Zika virus

Police officers in Rio were striking earlier this week due to budget cuts strongly affecting their work. On top of this, the Rio 2016 organisers had to face the news that two more athletes withdraw from the Olympics citing fears of zika virus.

On Monday, Brazil’s police officers began a strike in Rio de Janeiro. The police stations were partially closed and police agents were protesting against the payment delays, the lack of materials in their stations and the shortage of fuel for their vehicles.

Just weeks ahead of the Olympic Games, Fabio Neira, president of the Associations of Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro, was quoted by teleSUR: “Patience is over. Now it's a matter of survival. We are collapsing. We will increase the mobilization gradually, we do not want to be radical, but the government is leading us to that.”

The BBC reported that off-duty police officers with banners were greeting passengers in the arrivals hall at Rio de Janeiro's Galeao International Airport on Monday. The main message on the banners was: “Welcome to Hell. Police and firefighters don’t get paid; whoever comes to Rio de Janeiro will not be safe”.

According to CNN Money, Brazil's economy shrank 3.8% last year and the country is already in its worst recession in 25 years. Associated Press reported that Rio’s acting governor, Francisco Dornelles, has announced a state of financial disaster this month. Thus, Rio state had to cut its budget, including that of the police.

Francisco Dornelles has provided comments on the police strike to Rio’s O Globo newspaper: “How are people going to feel protected in a city without security. We can have a great Olympics, but if some steps aren't taken, it can be a big failure."

Besides, according to the BBC, two athletes, golf’s world number one Jason Day and Irish golfer Shane Lowry, announced yesterday that they have withdrawn from the Olympics because of concerns over the Zika virus. Earlier, a number of other top athletes, including Australian Marc Leishman, Fiji's Vijay Singh, South Africa's Branden Grace and Northern Ireland pair McIlory and Graeme McDowell, have already pulled out from the Games because of concerns over zika.