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Local Expert Weighs in on Rio Attendance


Amidst issues such as the threat of Zika, theft, and corruption, the Rio 2016 Olympics are officially underway. A local expert has insight as to why many empty seats are attracting attention early on in the troubled city and country hosting the summer games.

Gregg Bocketti is a Professor at Transylvania University and an expert in Brazilian culture and sports. He recently authored a book about such topics, entitled The Invention of the Beautiful Game: Football and the making of Modern Brazil.

Having lived and studied in the country, Bocketti feels a connection to the Brazilians who are less than enthusiastic with their home hosting the worldwide event.

“Brazil, like a lot of the world, has undergone a significant economic retraction, and on top of that, there has been quite a bit of mismanagement and corruption in the planning of the games, so many Brazilians have turned away from the idea of hosting these kind of events”

Whereas many from Kentucky and the US might skip the summer games because of health concerns and theft issues, locals are protesting because holding the events there have not necessarily helped the crumbling economy.

“Brazil had a real opportunity with the World Cup and the Olympics, to capitalize on these mega-events for infrastructure so that the legacy of these events would be beneficial to Brazilians, and it just seems to many people, I think, like an opportunity lost.”

What had seemed like an excellent opportunity, the host of problems that have arisen from both World Cup and the Olympics have caused for discontent in the country. The recent protests at the start of the Olympics last week, he says, are attributed to the economy as well as the Zika emergency.

Those from Kentucky might stay home because of the threat of disease and petty theft. Although security has been amped up around the summer games, the stands still hold scant crowds. Not only losing those flying in to Rio, Bocketti says Brazilians are disenchanted with the corruption as well as the high cost of tickets adding to the empty stands seen by those watching here in Kentucky.

“A lot of the attendance issues we are seeing, in terms of Brazilian attendance, has much more to do with dissatisfaction about the management and mis-management of the Olympic games and the cost of the tickets and less to do with health concerns or even security concerns.”

Bocketti's op-ed piece about the protests from the Lexington Herald-Leader can be read here:


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