IT’S NOT LOOKING GOOD FOR RIO 2016. This year’s summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro have been facing problems from the start, but a recent perfect storm of controversies and PR nightmares has meant that the country has only sold half of its available tickets to international sporting event. Brazil is in its worst economic recession in decades, the entire government all the way up to the President are embroiled in a huge corruption scandal that could result in the removal of the President from office, and, to top it all off, the country is plagued with the infamous Zika virus.
This follows Brazil’s 2014 World Cup, which was marred by huge protests over the expense of hosting the event in the face of horrific economic inequality. With the recession now compounding Brazil’s economic woes, they’re struggling to even get the event’s venues ready in time for the Opening Ceremonies. And in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, some are worried about the security.
Not all of this, of course, is Brazil’s fault: the Zika risk to non-pregnant travelers is minimal, the terrorist threat is being prepared for and may well be overblown, and the economic woes are just horribly timed (though it may not have helped to hold two hugely expensive international events in the span of two years). But the result is that Brazil is scrambling to sell enough tickets to the games.
Right now, they’re trying to encourage greater ticket sales by managing their Public Relations — by assuring the world that they have the Zika and terrorist threats under control (the same worries of a terrorist attack were expressed before the London Olympics, and Brazil is planning to have twice as many security personnel working the Rio games), and by minimizing the damage of the corruption scandals.
But Brazil’s other idea for boosting ticket sales is actually a pretty great one: they’re thinking of just giving the tickets away to kids at public schools. Because of the country’s economic recession, many people in Brazil simply can’t afford tickets to the games. So by giving the tickets to local public school kids, Olympics officials may be giving them a chance they never would have had otherwise. It’s a surprisingly cool thing for them to do in what is otherwise a disaster of a situation.
h/t: CNN Money