Besides the usual reports hyping the elaborate, existentially fraught pageantry, some interesting political subplots have emerged during the buildup to the start of Rio Games. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, the former presidents who brought the Olympics to Brazil and presided over the (disastrous) preparations, will not be attending the spectacle. (The former is being tried for obstructing the investigation of a massive political kickback scheme. The latter is staring down fraudulent impeachment charges.) Wary of the precarious optics, a number of world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, are expected to stay away as well. Interim President Michel Temer, whom 62 percent of Brazilians would like to see resign, has said he is “extremely prepared” to be received with a chorus of boos.
Add to this a cryptic tweet earlier today from the ceremony’s director, Fernando Meirelles, of City of God fame:
It translates as: “Bolsnaro is going to hate the ceremony. Trump too. At least we got that much right.”
Grievance is the orange spray tan Donald Trump swims in, so that really doesn’t tell us much about what Meirelles has in store for tonight. He does provide another clue, but like Trump, Jair Bolsnaro, the right-wing member of Brazil’s lower legislative body, is pretty much a walking dumpster fire of misogyny, racism, and homophobia. No help there, either.
That leaves plenty of room for speculation, but for now, let’s just point out that Trump has already become a cross-cultural stand-in for all things loathsome and backward in the world. In that, at least, his campaign seems to be bringing people together.