Less than a week before the 2016 Rio Olympics are set to start, the Brazil Ministry of Justice terminated its contract with a private firm that was supposed to provide security for the games. The ministry cited “incompetence and irresponsibility” from the Rio de Janeiro-based firm Artel, and moved to strip them of their duties.
It’s not hard to see why the Ministry of Justice reacted so harshly. With only a few days left until the first venues are set to open, Artel admitted that they have only hired 500 security personnel.
They were supposed to hire 3,400.
These staff members were going to be responsible for screening visitors outside each Olympic venue. X-ray machines and body searches are now going to be handled by local police forces to secure areas that are expected to have tens of thousands of screaming fans.
The same local police that had this welcoming sign for tourists last month.
Police have voiced concerns over pay, and there have been open strikes in the lead-up to the Rio Olympics. A total of 85,000 security forces are still expected to be present when the competition begins Wednesday.
This is latest of many last minute gaffes that Brazil and Rio organizers have had to deal with. Repairs to the Olympic Village were just completed after some teams remarked that their accommodations were unlivable. Some officials from the host city have even alleged that a number of the problems were a result of sabotage by disgruntled workers.
Guanabara Bay has been deemed safe to compete in, but garbage can still be seen floating at the surface of the water. People outside of the competition have even volunteered to help clean up the bay for it to be competition ready.
Similar security issues occurred at the 2012 London Olympics when G4S, one of the world’s biggest security firms, announced that it would be unable to hire the amount of qualified staff members needed in time for the games. Other armed forces were able to be hired to assist and the London games went off without a hitch.
The last minute nature of organization of these Olympics has been concerning to many. Especially in light of recent terrorist attacks, and the high propensity of street crime in Rio, one would have thought security would have been a higher priority to lock down at the Olympic venues.
The first events will be held at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 3.