Maybe this hasn’t come through on NBC’s tape-delayed infomercial of an exclusive broadcast, but the 2016 Summer Games aren’t going over too hot in Brazil. Videos of protests being quashed with rubber bullets and tear gas have gone viral. Over the weekend, police removed spectators from Olympic stadium grounds for displaying signs calling for the resignation of interim President Michel Temer.
Demonstrations were always to be expected, with Brazil hosting an unprofitable $12 billion corporate giveaway even as its economy slides into crisis. But in a country just decades removed from military dictatorship, the authoritarian nature of the crackdown—there are 85,000 security forces patrolling the streets of Rio, twice as many as in London 2012—has raised understandable concerns.
This is especially true given that a congressional coup may be underway in Brasília. Later this week, twice-elected President Dilma Rousseff will likely be impeached on fraudulent charges by Temer’s PMDB—“the party that ruined Rio,” as The New York Times has referred to it. What might otherwise have been a diffuse backlash at the Games now seems to be consolidating around Fora Temer—Out With Temer.
The irony is that it was Dilma’s Workers’s Party that brought the Games to Brazil and approved the atrocious Olympic Law now being used to suppress dissent. Temer hoped the Olympics would strengthen his tenuous grip on power. It may end up strengthening his grip on a ticking time bomb instead.