One year ago this week the 2016 Rio Olympics began. Sadly for many of the city’s poorer people – especially the young – what should have been a joyous celebration came at a terrible cost.

Throughout this week, in a series of articles, Children Win will speak to some of the people whose lives were changed forever by the 2016 Rio Olympics. This includes:

  • Rio mother Ana Paula whose 19-year-old son Johnatha was shot in the back by a police officer firing randomly to try and disperse a crowd. She says: “To the future host countries, I ask that people stay alert and not let mega events be something more important than the life of the people in a city.”
  • Gabriel Reis who, at the age of 17, was the first person arrested at the Olympics for protesting peacefully. He says: “If everything happened again, I would be there again, protesting against these Games that continue to be the ‘Exclusion Games’ after one year.”
  • 51-year-old mother Maria da Penha whose family home in Vila Autódromo, a community next to Rio’s Olympic Park, was demolished: “I had my face beaten, my blood was spilled, and my rights were disrespected. My family and my community were violated. Where is the right of the citizen to have dignity and housing, and to participate in these Games? The organizers say they are for everyone. They aren’t.”
Villa Autodromo, next to the Olympic Park,  used to accommodate 550 homes and a thriving community. Most of the residents have now been evicted. (Photo: Pim Ras)
sandra garden

Many more examples of child and human rights violations before and during the Rio 2016 Olympics can be found in our report ‘Breaking Records’. These include:

  • More than 22,000 families were evicted from their homes between 2009, when Rio de Janeiro was awarded the Games, and 2016.
  • During ‘Operation Security Present’ before and during the Games, more than 2000 people were arrested in four districts associated with the Olympics.
  • In 2016, the percentage of capacity in juvenile detention centres reached an inhumane 224%; an increase of 48% from 2015.
  • In the period of the Games, at least 75 adolescents were arrested for protesting peacefully.
  • The months of April, May and June 2016 saw a 103% increase in the number of police killings in Rio.
Thomas Bach, President of the IOC. (C)IOC/Ian Jones

Since the end of the Games, the Sport & Rights Alliance – of which Terre des Hommes is a member – has worked with the International Olympic Committee to incorporate human rights criteria into the Host City Contracts for the 2024 and 2028 Games, to be staged in Paris and Los Angeles respectively.

In this respect, the IOC has at least made a start. But now those promises on paper must become a reality, and long before then there remain unresolved questions about the costs and impact of Summer and Winter Games to be staged over the next five years in South Korea, Japan and China.

Therefore it is essential that the voices of people whose lives have been changed forever by Mega Sporting Events continue to be heard.

Read our report Breaking Records on child rights violations during Rio Olympics 2016 

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