It seems not a week can go by without having some new reason to be concerned about the Olympics scheduled to be hosted by Rio de Janeiro this summer. When star athletes like Rafael Nadal start making plans to outside of the Olympic village due to safety concerns, there are some serious problems to address.
The Associated Press reported Monday that tennis superstar Rafael Nadal reportedly planned to stay at a friend’s house when making his way to the summer games as opposed to staying in the Olympic village, which is designated for the Olympic athletes. That information was made available by Andrei Rodrigues, who oversees the security for special events in Brazil. Nadal, however, denied that rumor. Nadal has stayed in the Olympic village two previous times. Nadal aside, Rodrigues also claimed others plan on staying outside of the Olympic village as well. Among those staying elsewhere are the men’s and women’s basketball teams for Team USA. They’ll be staying on cruise ships docked at a Rio port.
“Any action out of the ordinary will obviously prompt greater concern,” Rodrigues told the Associated Press. “We would need to come up with a secondary operation, so that is a concern to us, obviously. It would be more comfortable for us if all athletes stayed in the village and traveled from there to the training venues and to the competition venues.”
Now, it is worth mentioning Nadal isn’t exactly your typical Olympic athlete. Nadal has been one of the top earners in the tennis world and naturally has a bit more money and connections than, say, South Africa’s marathon runner. If you have connections and accommodations that can allow you to rest in a better environment than the Olympic village, why wouldn’t you take advantage of that? As far as Nadal is concerned, this may be a bit of an overblown story used to ramp up the concern about the safety at the Olympics. But that does not mean the safety concerns should not be setting off some red alarms this close to the games.
With any number of athletes not staying in the Olympic village, the host city and nation are tasked with attempting to stretch their security units to take care of the visiting athletes. Not everything can be covered as ideally planned though, which means security could face some struggles this summer.
“The athletes are the VIP clients of the games,” Rodrigues said. “They are the stars and they have to shine, so obviously we need to make sure that they have all the conditions to compete, and for that to happen we need to keep them safe.”