In the opening scene of the movie Shakespeare in Love—which, by the way, will someday be remembered as being superior to Steven Spielberg’s piece of Greatest Generation-porn Saving Private Ryan—theater owner Philip Henslowe explains the theater business to loan shark Hugh Fennyman:
Philip Henslowe: Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.
Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do?
Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
Henslowe: I don’t know. It’s a mystery.
That’s also an accurate description for most Olympics. Everything seems like it’s going to collapse and then, somehow, everything turns out fine! Except maybe not this year.
As The New York Times’s Joe Nocero points out, much has changed in Brazil since it was awarded the Olympic Games in 2009. Then, Brazil’s economy was skyrocketing, and it looked like it would soon become the world’s fifth-largest economy; today, Brazil is in economic, political, and social crisis. Its president was impeached on (mostly bogus) corruption charges. Its GDP dropped nearly 4 percentage points last year. Social programs, including police and security services, have been drastically cut. Zika.
And now the laboratory that was supposed to process drug-test samples has been suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which cited “nonconformities.” Usually things work out for the Olympics, which start on August 5, but this might just be the exception.