Every host nation has dealt with its own series of problems throughout the history of the Olympic Games. It seems, however, that Rio de Janeiro is having more than most.

So with the opening ceremony just a week-plus away, here is a list of all the issues facing Rio in advance of the Olympics, which begin on Aug. 5.


The first and most consistent issue is the Zika virus, which is suspected of causing birth defects and has been declared a global public health emergency by the World Health Organization. Some athletes decided the Olympics were too important to miss and took precautions which may or may not involve frozen sperm.

Other athletes simply withdrew from the Olympics due to Zika concern, despite the CEO of the Olympics committee stating that the virus is not among his top 10 concerns for the games. His foremost priority is keeping the athletes and spectators safe from criminals -- and maybe even the police.


Two members of the Australian Paralympic team were robbed. A New Zealand athlete was reportedly kidnapped and robbed by police. Human body parts washed up on shore near one of the beach volleyball sites. All this in a year when Rio has experienced a huge uptick in police-related deaths and street muggings. Luckily there won't be thousands of drunk foreigners walking around dimly lit streets every night ...

Protests over safety have been taking place at the Rio airport. Getty Images

Golfers dropping out

Golf will be played at the Olympics for the first time in over a century, but many of the world's top golfers have elected to opt out. Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are just a few of the names you won't be seeing in Rio due to Zika or, well, lack of interest. Speaking of athletes you likely won't be seeing in Rio ...

Russian doping scandal

Russia has been the subject of much scrutiny after a report detailed one of the most brash and egregious conspiracies of systematic cheating in recent memory. After the report announced that 312 positive Russian tests across 28 Olympic sports were covered up by officials, the ban of the country's entire track and field team was upheld.

The International Olympic Committee decided against excluding all Russian athletes, and has instead banned those who have previously served a doping suspension. The IOC also left it up to individual sport federations to decide whether Russian athletes in their sport can compete in Rio. In any case, you probably won't be seeing many Russians on the podium.

Uninhabitable Olympic Village

Upon moving into the Olympic Village, several countries complained that the dorms were in unsatisfactory condition. Australia went as far as to send over 700 athletes to stay in hotels while repairs were made. Plumbing and electrical problems were the most common issues, and an Australian representative said only 10 of the 31 buildings were "inhabitable." You probably have better odds at the freshman dorm of your local state college.

Water pollution

Severe water pollution was documented in the venues for sailing, rowing and other water sports. As recently as the beginning of July, raw sewage -- yes, RAW SEWAGE -- was still flowing from Rio neighborhoods directly into the water, along with a large amount of trash. Rio's waters were also found to contain viruses up to 1.7 million times more hazardous than a beach in the U.S. So if you're running away from a Zika-carrying mosquito, make sure not to jump in the water to hide.

The water in Rio de Janeiro was found to be highly polluted. Getty Images

Air pollution

As if the water issue wasn't enough, now research has shown that the pollution in the air might be even more dangerous. So not only should you stay out of the water, you also can't go outside. Enjoy that luxurious Rio hotel room.

Infrastructure delays

A lack of funding has caused issues with both security and mobility, which led the Rio de Janeiro mayor to say that the Olympics "could be a big failure." The mayor feared there would not be enough money to pay for gas for police officers, and that the metro line meant to transport tourists would not be completed. Protesters have been lining up at the Rio airport for months, holding signs that say, "Welcome to Hell." Still more welcoming than TSA agents.

Doping lab suspension

Just six weeks before the Olympics, Rio's accredited anti-doping laboratory was suspended and stopped from conducting tests on blood and urine samples. The lab, known as Ladetec, was reinstated by the World Anti-Doping Agency on July 20, saving the Rio Olympic committee the hundreds of thousands of dollars it would have cost to ship the samples to labs in other countries. See, it's not all bad news.

Surely more issues will arise between now and the end of the Olympics on Aug. 21, assuming we make it that far.