In the face of various dire in-advance-expressed concerns, Rio de Janeiro and Brazil have hosted for the world what virtually all parties see to have been a successful and entertaining two weeks of Olympic games.
The United States has virtually every reason to be particularly licking its chops, having taken home some 121 medals, among them 46 gold. Americans glowed particularly in the achievements of swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky and gymnast Simone Biles, who carried the Stars and Stripes in the closing ceremony.
Pushing a Sisyphean rock up a hill was not one of the events at the Olympics, but Brazil had to achieve a comparable feat in bringing off the long, complicated event with nearly everyone happy. To lead off the list of its problems, Brazil is in the process of impeaching its president, Dilma Rousseff, with the vote scheduled to be held this week. Then there was the question of Rio’s sometime reputation for crime and general lack of security. In the event, it turned out that the most noteworthy crime during the two weeks was committed by an American swimming team. which ingloriously vandalized a service station rest room and then lied about it. There was concern that the Rio facilities either wouldn’t be completed on time, or that the water used in some events would be dirty enough to make competitors sick. It didn’t happen.
Then there was the fear of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, with American and other media laden in advance of the games with copious coverage of babies with birth defects. The Brazilians appear to have swatted most of them since at the Olympics there was virtually no talk of the pesky little insects. Traffic – getting around – was apparently not a serious problem, either.
The Olympic torch, clearly an enormous responsibility, has now been passed to Tokyo, which will host the summer games in 2020.
In the meantime, rich, raucous applause is due Rio and the Brazilians for a job very well done.