Passengers hang on the doors of a train as it passes the Olympic rings placed at the Madureira Park ahead the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro May 22, 2015. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Hazardous water, displacement, and rising police violence still plague the city, but Mayor Paes insists Rio is already better off thanks to next year's Summer Olympics.

Hazardous water, displacement, and rising police violence be damned, it’s full speed ahead for Rio 2016.

With a little less than one year to go before the Summer Olympics, Brazilian and IOC officials gathered earlier this week to celebrate the progress made so far. Olympic Park, Olympic Stadium, the athletes’ village, and the aquatic center are all more than 75 percent complete, according to Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes.

That doesn’t mean all is well. An Associated Press investigation last month revealed “dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage in Olympic and Paralympic venues.” Health concerns, says Rio 2016 organizing committee head, Carlos Nuzman, have led to “several” unidentified nations dropping out of events. Nuzman, according to The Guardian, insists the venues will be safe for athletes once the Games begin.

For those who live in Rio’s favelas, progress from Olympics-related development isn’t so clear. Last June, displacement efforts turned violent as the last few holdouts in Vila Autódromo clashed with police. City officials say the land is needed for Olympic Park access roads but many residents suspect luxury housing will take their place once the Games are over.

Meanwhile, a new Amnesty International report states nearly 16 percent of Rio’s total homicides since 2010 have been committed by on-duty police officers. The main cause, according to Atila Roque, Amnesty International Brazil’s director, is a “toxic cocktail of a corrupt, violent and ill-resourced police force, communities so poor and marginalized they are hardly visible, and a criminal justice system that constantly fails to deliver justice and reparations for human rights violations.”

But the mayor insists that despite Rio’s issues, the city is already better off for the Games. Paes told reporters on Wednesday that public transit ridership has risen from 16 to 63 percent as a result of new investments in bus and metro service. “Don’t come here wanting Swiss, Swedish or Danish levels of development,” says the mayor, adding, “we are not therebut we have advanced a lot in recent years.”

Fisherman Fabricio, resident of the Vila Autodromo favela, rides on his boat in front of the construction work for the Rio 2016 Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil June 9, 2015. (REUTERS/Pilar Olivares)
A view shows the construction site of the Rio 2016 Olympic Aquatic sports venue at the Rio 2016 Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 24, 2015. (REUTERS/Sergio Moraes)
Rio de Janeiro's Governor Luiz Fernando Pezao (2nd L), Rio de Janeiro's Mayor Eduardo Paes (C) and Rio 2016 Olympic Games Organising Committee President Carlos Arthur Nuzman (2nd R) walk through a wall broken during a ceremony to mark the last detonation of rocks at one of the two tunnels on the Transolimpica freeway route, which will connect the Rio 2016 Olympic Park and the Deodoro Sports Complex, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil August 4, 2015. (REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)
The Rio 2016 Olympic Golf venue is pictured under construction in Rio de Janeiro March 25, 2015. (REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)
Workers are pictured at the construction site of the handball venue at the Rio 2016 Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 5, 2015. (REUTERS/Sergio Moraes)
Athletes start the swimming leg of the men's triathlon at the ITU World Olympic Qualification event on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 2, 2015. (REUTERS/Sergio Moraes)
A child inside a car looks at partially demolished houses next to the construction work for the Rio 2016 Olympic Park in the Vila Autodromo favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 9, 2015. (REUTERS/Pilar Olivares)
A resident of the Vila Autodromo favela picks up her clothes in front of the construction work for the Rio 2016 Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil June 9, 2015. (REUTERS/Pilar Olivares)
A view shows the construction site of the Rio 2016 Olympic Tennis venue at the Rio 2016 Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 24, 2015. (REUTERS/Sergio Moraes)
A worker inside a garbage-collecting boat collects the remains of garbage from the Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 1, 2015. (REUTERS/Sergio Moraes)
A view shows the construction site of the Rio 2016 Olympic Tennis venue at the Rio 2016 Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 24, 2015. (REUTERS/Sergio Moraes)
Buildings under construction are pictured at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games athletes village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil July 21, 2015. (REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    A Horrifying Glimpse Into Your Dystopian Future Transit Commute

    A comic artist’s take on what the future of transportation might really feel like.

  2. A cyclist rides on the bike lane in the Mid Market neighborhood during Bike to Work Day in San Francisco,
    Perspective

    Why Asking for Bike Lanes Isn't Smart

    In the 1930s big auto dreamed up freeways and demanded massive car infrastructure. Micromobility needs its own Futurama—one where cars are marginalized.

  3. Uber Eats worker
    Life

    The Millennial Urban Lifestyle Is About to Get More Expensive

    As WeWork crashes and Uber bleeds cash, the consumer-tech gold rush may be coming to an end.

  4. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  5. Two men look over city plans at a desk in an office.
    Equity

    The Doomed 1970s Plan to Desegregate New York’s Suburbs

    Ed Logue was a powerful agent of urban renewal in New Haven, Boston, and New York City. But his plan to build low-income housing in suburbia came to nought.

×