Safety of athletes and tourists top priority in dangerous city

Special Report by Simon Gray

With Rio’s 2015 crime rating being high, the recent Zika virus outbreak is not the only potential safety issue for the games.

While the build-up to the most recent Games in London was dominated by fears over terrorism and other high-level security issues, concerns ahead of Rio involve low-level crime. There are concerns over possible muggings and attacks on tourists and citizens.

While street crime has generally fallen over the last 30 years, Rio has seen a spike in street robberies in recent months, reaching levels not seen since 1991. In October last year, security in the Brazilian capital was stepped up after a wave of attacks on beachgoers at the city’s most famous beaches, and Rio de Janeiro tourism officials have said that violence has returned.

The 57-year-old doctor Jamie Gold died last year from stab wounds to the abdomen and arm sustained while being assaulted for his bicycle by two teenagers.

But Mayor Eduardo Paes has said that he was confident in security arrangements for this year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics, South America’s first games.

The mayor admitted that his city still has a lot of security problems, but he insists visitors will be safe when attending the games.

“This is not an issue about the Olympics,” Paes said, speaking at Rio’s Olympic headquarters after meeting with top members of the International Olympic Committee.

Paes also highlighted the Football World Cup two years ago, in which at least 150,000 soldiers and police were on duty across the country, as an example of Brazil and Rio’s success in organising large events and keeping the peace.

Did you know?
- Doctor Jamie Gold was fatally stabbed close to Rio's tourist hotspots.
- The budget of 38.2bn reais (£7.9bn) is slightly lower than that of London and well below that of Beijing.
- In 2012, Brazil had the most homicides globally (56,337).

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