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Rio's Leader Warns That The Olympics Could Be A 'Failure'

The city needs more money to pay for security and transportation.

28/06/2016 10:24 PM AEST | Updated June 28, 2016 23:02

With just a few weeks left until the start of the 2016 Olympics, Brazil is still suffering from serious economic problems.

The acting governor of Rio de Janeiro warned that the games could be a "failure" if his state doesn't get its finances in order. 

"I am optimistic about the games, but I have to show the reality. We can make a great Olympics, but if some steps are not taken, it can be a big failure," Fransisco Dornelles told O Globo, according to CNN. 

Brazil hasn't followed through on a promise to provide Rio with extra funding for security and transportation, according to Dornelles. Police officers in the city aren't being fully paid and may not even have enough money for gas.

The missing funds are just the tip of Brazil's iceberg of turmoil.

Crime

A functioning police force and transportation system are necessary, given the rising crime in Rio. Murder and robbery are up 15 percent and 30 percent, respectively, since last year, NPR reports. The city is trying to get new buses off the ground to help tourists avoid the favelas -- areas vulnerable to violence, theft and gang activity. 

"How are people going to feel protected in a city without security?" Dornelles said.

Political Unrest

After months of protest from angry Brazilians, the Senate last month voted to impeach President Dilma Rousseff over allegations that she lied about the country's economic issues.

Rousseff and several members of her cabinet are also accused of making billions off of the state-run oil company Petrobras. 

Wealth Gap

Economic inequality has long been an issue in Brazil. Recent figures indicate that the unemployment rate topped 11 percent last month. Wages are also down. Meanwhile, those involved in the Petrobras scandal are said to have made over $5 billion from bribes, kickbacks and money-laundering. 

The Worst Recession In Decades

Brazil is facing one of the worst recessions the country has ever faced. The economy shrank 5.4 percent in the first three months of the year, the government said. Additionally, as FT points out, export prices have shrunk, household debt has increased, and inflation has risen even more than expected. 

Zika Fears

The recent outbreak of the Zika virus has lead to athletes, journalists and other travelers vowing to skip the August games.

Although the symptoms of Zika aren't serious, the virus can lead to severe birth defects if contracted by a pregnant woman.

"Female athletes should not be forced to make a decision that could sacrifice the health of a child," soccer star Hope Solo said.

There are currently no effective treatments or vaccinations.

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