Wed | Jul 18, 2018

Follow the Trace | Three mosquitos in Rio

Published:Tuesday | August 30, 2016 | 12:00 AM

I had the privilege of being in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro for the entire duration of the 2016 Olympic Games and like most of the over half a million visitors to Brazil's second largest city on this historic occasion, I was put on the psychological defensive entering my near three-week stay in Rio.

The threat of the rampaging mosquito-borne zika virus, the dangers of violent crime, were the main doses of medicine served up constantly by the self serving 'witch doctors' in the international media.

I was completely bewildered that after a week and a half in Rio, there was not a single mosquito in sight. It was close to the end of my second week that one of wayward creatures crossed my eyesight. Being in attack mode based on the administered doses of fear, I instantly smashed and splattered the unfortunate parasite against the outside wall of my residential villa.

Almost another full week would pass before I encountered another two of the vector parasites, this time in the middle of the night in the elevator heading up to my second floor abode. Still in attack mode, I crashed mosquito number two against the door of the moving elevator, it almost jammed. Thank God it didn't.




Mosquito number three apparently smelled the imminent danger as he bobbed and weaved towards the roof of the elevator, with arms outstretched I was ready to pounce again, as the elevator door opened mosquito number three whisked out of the lift, down the second floor corridor to complete a lucky escape.

My total mosquito experience in Rio therefore reads: Three weeks, three mosquitoes encountered, two vanquishing, one escaped and no bites, a clear and instructive index of the alarmist, overblown and exaggerated pronouncements, compromised by sporting politics and a touch of classism.

Indeed, the Brazilian authorities subsequently put out a report claiming no reported cases of the zika virus contracted by any visitor to Rio for the Olympics Games.

As far as the threats of crime and violence in Rio were concerned, that also turned out to be dramatic, a false alarm. The security presence in Rio was almost overbearing. There was heavily armed military and police presence on almost every street corner in Rio and they were there for 24 hours per day. At no point in my entire sojourn did I feel threatened or endangered. In my exchanges with other visitors the consensus was pretty much - what was all the fuss about?




The nature of my assignment in Rio saw me traversing the length and breadth of the city. I was for the most part out of the confines of the Olympic village, the Olympic stadium and the other competition stadia and the media residence. I was out in the streets of Rio mixing, mingling and interacting with the warm and welcoming Brazilian people.

My distinct impression was that generally they were not big athletics fans and their most cherished Olympic achievements from these Games were the men's football and the men's volleyball gold medals.

But there seemed to be a genuine will, passion and desire by the average Brazilian to put on a good show for the world to see. That I think they fully achieved.

The 2016 Olympics Games in Rio was a massive and overwhelming success, from the spectacular opening ceremony in the historic Maracana Stadium, through the twists and turns and drama of all the competitive action to the glitz, colour and theatre, of the closing ceremony at the same venue. It was indeed a great and spectacular show.

For all those 'witch doctors', who prescribed doom and gloom for Rio, they should all hang their heads in apologetic shame, while the international Olympic Committee, along with the Brazilian people should be given all the praise and glory for overcoming the piercing negativity and the near crippling adversities, to put on a memorable show.