SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 16, September 2016 - Page 105

poiler Alert: Every day the world changes - economically, politically, socially. Subsequently, it’s not hard to imagine

how much that dynamic compounds every four years - new world leaders, new discoveries, more awareness, and even more connectivity.

Also happening every four years, nations send their top athletes to compete in the Summer Olympiad, and travelers from across the globe get to witness it all. It’s the ultimate competition with countries trying to outperform each other in order to attain the tangible evidence of their supremacy by bringing home the Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal. That description seems more in line with The Hunger Games than a celebration of world unity, but that's just what the Olympics foster - a sense of world camaraderie and cohesion. It's a chance for nations to turn their focus on bolstering that unity while respective athletes revel in the support received not only from their own country, but also from unlikely supporters.

It's not that the Olympics don't come with their own set of criticism and controversy. Much has been written as to how lucrative the Games are for a given host city, in this case, Rio de Janeiro. Questions arise about profitability versus effects of global exposure. In fact, Brazil is currently in a state of economic and political upheaval - the economy is in recession, and their president, Dilma Rousseff, is undergoing an impeachment trial for allegedly manipulating the federal budget. Government officials were lambasted for concentrating more on the planning and execution of the Games rather than building up Brazil's own economy and lowering poverty levels. Leading up to the Olympics, many were concerned as to whether that money was even put to use with doubts running rampant about Rio’s ability to host.

That said, being present in Rio, the talk among locals did not revolve around any negative impact of the Games or the current unrest, but around the excitement and the opportunity presented. Much like Beijing was touted as bringing China to the forefront of the world in 2008, the 2016 Olympiad and those involved with it were concerned with achieving the same goal for Brazil. If a more negative tone among locals dominated conversation prior, it was not their main point of discussion during the Games. These were people who wanted visitors to see the moniker "the Marvelous City" - Rio's nickname - is truly deserved. Discussions at the bar, the beach, and varying Olympic events defined the city and the country; and it was these experiences that infused a sense of unity. With the 2016 Games also being the first in South America, there was a sense of validation and value about Brazilian and Latin culture represented on a global scale.