Normally, as we approach the beginning of the Summer Olympics every four years, the focus is on our top athletes and their preparations to go for the gold, but at this point some of them are preparing to head for the hills. Just how much of a disaster is the decision to allow Brazil to host the games going to turn out to be? We’ve just learned that the inclusion of golf in the Olympic competition is going to be missing one of the sport’s biggest names, with Rory McIlroy – one of the young, rising stars on the links – deciding to stay home. (Washington Post)

Rory McIlroy withdrew from the Rio Olympics because of his concerns over the Zika virus Wednesday, a disappointing decision for a sport that is returning to the Games after a 112-year absence.

The 27-year-old golfer from Northern Ireland noted in making the announcement that the risk of infection is considered low, but “is a risk nonetheless and a risk I am unwilling to take” now that he is engaged to Erica Stoll, with whom he has said he intends to start a family in the near future.

“After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero,” McIlroy, who had said he would play for Ireland and not Britain in the Games, said in a statement released Wednesday. “After speaking with those closest to me, I’ve come to realize that my health and my family’s health comes before anything else. Even though the risk of infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk nonetheless and a risk I am unwilling to take.

The festivities will also be short one majestic forest creature as well, in the form of a rare jaguar from Brazil’s jungles. This one was able to make it to a media presentation celebrating the upcoming games, but was shot shortly thereafter when he managed to briefly escape.

The jaguar was trotted out during an Olympic torch event in Brazil, where the official team mascot is named Ginga, a smiling, yellow jaguar.

But the appearance at a zoo attached to a Manaus military compound did not end well for the jaguar: A soldier shot the animal after it escaped from its handlers, according to a Brazilian army statement.

The jaguar was first tranquilized and then approached a soldier, after which it was shot, the Amazon Military Command said.

I don’t know if this killing will get the same level of attention that the shooting of a gorilla in America receives, but it certainly put a damper on the festivities.

Are the Brazil Olympics just cursed? The Zika virus has everyone on edge already, particularly with all the mosquitoes plaguing Rio, but these are far from the only concerns. The water in the bay where many of the aquatic events are scheduled to take place is little more than a raw sewage runoff by some accounts. Workers who are building the facilities for the games (which are still not finished) have gone on strike because they aren’t being paid, so some of the venues may not be ready in time. And it’s not just a lack of funding. The police just raided the offices of several of the construction companies involved in the project over charges of fraud and malfeasance. (Wall Street Journal)

Brazil’s Federal Police raided the headquarters of a consortium of companies building one of the main 2016 Olympic centers on Tuesday, fueling concerns that malfeasance may have tainted Games-related construction projects.

Investigators say they have uncovered evidence of fraud and falsification of documents related to disposal of construction waste—mainly dirt— at Rio’s Deodoro sports complex. A federal judge has also frozen 128 million reais ($37 million) in federal funding from state bank Caixa Econômica Federal to pay for the project.

The Olympic Committee seems to be very interested in “diversity” these days and is pushing the idea of holding the games in a variety of places which are more than a little dodgy in terms of their humanitarian record or simply unable to pull of something of this magnitude. That wins them plenty of plaudits from human rights workers around the globe, but it doesn’t do much for the reputation of the games themselves if people are refusing to attend, dropping dead from disease or showing up to stadiums with no seats or lights in them.

Handing the Olympics to Brazil under the current conditions there is starting to make about as much sense as holding the World Cup in Qatar. Soccer when the temperature is 120 degrees? What could possibly go wrong?

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