Rio Olympics 'a perfect storm': Veteran CBC journalist Scott Russell
Scott Russell says Rio Olympics 'ready to move ahead' despite political, environmental concerns
As veteran CBC journalist prepares to head to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to cover his 13th Olympic games in August, he says the "perfect storm" of political and environmental concerns that the host city is facing is unlike anything he's seen before.
Environmental, political concerns
"There were concerns about Athens in 2004, particularly about readiness. And, they were ready at the last minute. Concerns about security in Sochi in 2014 and about the situation with gay rights and the Russian stance on that," Russell told CBC News: Compass host Bruce Rainnie on Wednesday.
"But this is a perfect storm, as you mention. There is a political crisis going on in Brazil right now. Never before has the Olympic movement been to a place where the president has been impeached, which is the case in Brazil."
Water quality 'not good'
In terms of environmental concerns, Russell noted Rio's water quality is "not good." But he downplayed concerns with the Zika virus, which he called a "minimal threat" since he's been there and "not seen any evidence of the threat."
Another concern hanging over the Olympics is the Russian doping scandal from the Sochi games and whether that country's track and field athletes will be able to participate in Rio. On Friday, the International Association of Athletics Federations [IAAF] upheld a ban on Russian track and field athletes for the Olympics. However, the IOC could exempt some Russian athletes from the ban when it meets on June 21.
Even with the concerns, Russell doesn't believe the games will be postponed or cancelled.
"We're 51 days away now from the Olympic Games. At this point in time, the organizing is done. The venues are ready to go. Tickets have been sold. The IOC [International Olympic Committee] has moved in and taken over the presentation of the games and the execution of the games … I think that Brazil is ready to move ahead."
Canada's medal hopefuls
Russell is looking forward to seeing how Canada's track and field performs in Rio. He noted that Canada has been in a "drought" since since Donovan Bailey won two medals in the Atlanta 1996 games.
Now, Canada has sprinters Andre De Grasse and Aaron Brown as well as strong athletes in the high jump and pole vault competitions.
"There is a chance Canada could win six, maybe seven medals in track and field, which is the marquee event at the Olympic Games," he said.
The Olympics begin on Aug. 6 and end on Aug. 21.
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With files from CBC News: Compass