Vancouver Olympics CEO calls Rio concerns overblown
Published Wednesday, July 6, 2016 6:00PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 6, 2016 6:56PM PDT
The CEO of the most recent Olympics held in Canada believes concerns surrounding the Games in Rio de Janeiro are overblown.
John Furlong said Wednesday that he’s confident the Brazilian government will make sure that the Olympics are secure, despite warnings from local police.
"We think the Brazilians are going to take care of us," Furlong said.
"Our teams have been down there, our delegations have been down there looking and I think the feeling... is that Rio is doing a very good job."
He said the team is very optimistic, and that he thinks people will be surprised at how well the event goes, once it starts.
"I think the Brazilians are going to surprise us about how well organized they are," he said.
Furlong's comments followed protests from Rio police, who said they haven't been paid in months, and won't be able to protect athletes.
Earlier this week, photos showed state police holding a banner at the airport that read: "Welcome to hell. Police and firefighters don't get paid, whoever comes to Rio de Janeiro will not be safe."
Canadian Olympic Committee president Tricia Smith said that even if there are security issues, Team Canada isn't travelling alone.
"We have an RCMP contingent that comes with us to the Games so they are our advisors on the ground, and certainly our eyes and ears there," Smith said.
And athletes are putting their trust in the COC's evaluation of the situation in Rio, Canadian men's field hockey captain Scott Tupper said.
"I think the COC is really good about being on top of these things, and if the athletes were in danger we wouldn't go," Tupper told CTV News.
The captain's views appear to be shared by the rest of Team Canada, as all athletes who qualified will be going to the Games in August.
In addition to the security concerns, health officials have made public the presence of drug-resistant bacteria on the beaches near one of the venues. Visitors and competitors have also been warned about the risk of contracting Zika virus, which is known to cause severe birth defects and can be spread through sex.
Regardless of warnings, 29 current and former students of the University of British Columbia will be heading south this year as part of Team Canada. Approximately 10 per cent of the Canadians competing have spent time at UBC.
UBC student and Olympic swimmer Emily Overholt said that the competition is a "dream come true" regardless of the other factors.
"As an athlete I'm mostly just focused on what I can control, what I can do to be the best I can," Overhold said.
Team Canada is hoping to improve on the 18 medals won at the previous games in London in 2012.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Shannon Paterson