‘Everything will be fine’ at Rio Olympics despite Zika, crime

Brazilian football great Carlos Alberto laughs off suggestions visitors should stay away

Brazilian football great Carlos Alberto has rejected the idea that visitors should stay away from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this summer because of fears about crime, safety and the Zika virus.

The captain of Brazil’s 1970 World Cup-winning team joked Rio was “almost ready, always almost” to stage a great Games and downplayed negative headlines that have dominated recent coverage of the city’s preparations.

The country is in the grips of a recession, the government is in crisis, violence in the city’s notorious favelas is on the up and the spread of the Zika virus appears to be unchecked by attempts to slow it with insecticide.

Even more concerning, however, are reports that the health risks from Zika, which is spread by mosquitos, are more serious than first feared, with the virus being linked to neurological conditions in adults, as well as causing babies to be born with small brains.


Most of the Zika cases in Brazil remain focused in the country's northeast, where 1,190 cases have been confirmed. Though Zika infections continue to spread throughout Brazil and beyond, there has not been a concentrated surge in the number of microcephaly cases elsewhere. In Brazil's southeast, which includes the major cities of Sáo Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, 68 cases have been confirmed.

And then there are the problems surrounding the building of Olympic infrastructure and venues, and slow ticket sales.

Earlier this week, another Brazilian football hero, Rivaldo, warned tourists to stay away in a message posted on his Instagram account.

“Things are getting uglier here every day,” wrote the 2002 World Cup winner. “I advise everyone with plans to visit Brazil for the Olympics in Rio - to stay home. You’ll be putting your life at risk here.”

But the 71-year-old Carlos Alberto laughed off the concerns, pointing out that there were worse problems in Brazil a year before the 2014 World Cup but that was a great success.

Speaking at the Soccerex Americas Forum in Mexico City, Carlos Alberto said: "The organisers of the Games are good people and while we might not get 100 per cent of the way there with our preparations, we'll get close enough.

“Rio can be dangerous but the security for this will be fine and the military are dealing with Zika.

“Everything will be fine in the end, that’s the reality in Brazil.”

The Rio native was less optimistic about Brazil’s chances of winning a first ever Olympic football gold.

“We have had much better teams in the past and not done it,” said the scorer of Brazil’s famous fourth goal in the 1970 World Cup final.

“We are depending 1,000 per cent on Neymar.”

The Olympics starts in Rio on August 5th and runs until August 21st, with the Paralympics being staged from September 7th-18th.