The start of the Summer Olympics is now only seven weeks away and counting and local athletes don’t appear to be too phased by threats of Zika, gang violence and political upheaval in Brazil.
It’s a difficult process to train for what some have deemed the competition of a lifetime, even more difficult made by geographical concerns.
Worry is something wrestler Erica Wiebe knows all too well after attending the games in Sochi, Russia as a supporter and spectator of Team Canada.
“I have full confidence in how the Canadian Olympic Committee is going to take care of the athletes and the IOC does an amazing job ensuring the safety of the athletes and everyone who’s taking part in the Olympic Games,” she said. “I don’t know if you guys remember two years ago the terrorism threats and all the kind of …. there was so many controversies around Russia at the time and I was really scared to go to Sochi as just a supporter and a volunteer. But I got on the plane and I was nervous but when I landed in Sochi, it was this really protective bubble and exciting energy.”
Wiebe says the Olympic Games tend to transform a city where it’s being held and she has no doubt it will be the same for Rio.
“We’re there to get a job done and there’s always going to be distractions, it’s the Olympics, it’s crazy but like I said we’re there on business, so I’m just excited to get the job done.”
She and many athletes had already gone to Brazil to attend the test event, she says the volunteers were awesome and people there are already feeling the Olympic energy.
“Everywhere we travel there’s issues with health, water quality and everywhere in the world there’s things you have to keep in mind as a traveller and we’re used to dealing with a lot of those things,” she said, adding they’ll be competing in the middle of their winter.
Sentiments echoed by Paralympian swimmer Morgan Bird who will be attending the games after the Olympians are done.
Bird has already been to Brazil for a competition in 2009 and calls it a positive experience.
“I do recognize that it is a concern but my main focus will be my competition. We have support systems put in place and I’m confident that like the organizers will be putting the necessary measures in place to ensure the safety of all athletes.”
“I know there have been statements that have been said that Rio will be safe and venues will be instructed daily to minimize the impact of things such as the Zika virus.”
They’ve been told to bring what she says are obvious things such as long sleeved clothing and mosquito nets to protect themselves.
“Meetings did take place to tell us the safety precautions and so I’m very confident in their ability.”
Earlier Friday, Rio declared a state of financial emergency asking for more funds to complete its Olympic obligations.
To see more of Ian’s conversation with Erica back in early May, click the player.