Body parts from a mutilated corpse appeared meters from an Olympic venue in Rio de Janeiro, the latest unsettling development for the city preparing to host the first ever Olympic Games in South America, Reuters reported Wednesday.
The body parts were first discovered by a Rio street vendor, police confirmed to Reuters, on the world-famous Copacabana Beach, also the site of this year’s Olympic beach volleyball competitions.
The identity of the body and the circumstances of the death remain unknown.
With the Summer Olympics a little more than a month away, Brazil, the host country, has had a less-than-celebratory journey to the Aug. 5 international sporting event.
On Tuesday, off-duty police officers displayed a prominent banner at Rio’s Galeao International Airport that read “Welcome to Hell,” reminding arriving passengers that the country’s economic downturn has led to massive cuts in state finances. The angry officers alerted visitors that the city’s security forces were not immune to the budget cuts.
“Police and firefighters don’t get paid. Whoever comes to Rio de Janeiro will not be safe,” the sign is quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
Earlier this month, Rio’s acting governor Francisco Dornelles declared a state of financial emergency, seeking 2.9 billion Brazilian real, or $860 million, in aid from the federal government.
Dornelles said the move was to avoid a “total collapse in public security, health, education, transport and environmental management.”
In May, Brazil’s Senate voted to suspend President Dilma Rousseff, throwing the country into further political turmoil. Those who opposed Rousseff, the country’s first female president, accused her of borrowing from state banks to hide budget deficits. Rousseff’s impeachment trial is expected to finish after the Olympics.
Last summer, an Associated Press investigation found that athletes could be competing in highly contaminated waters, due to a lacking sewage infrastructure. A lack of funds could prevent officials from properly addressing the city’s pollution problems.
Among the many concerns confronting Brazil’s first Olympic Games, one of the most pressing is the state of Guanabara Bay, site of the sailing competition. A vital source of income for local fishermen, the bay is severely polluted and lethally toxic — but those fighting to preserve it face a violent response. Special correspondent Lulu Garcia-Navarro of NPR reports. Video by PBS NewsHour
Brazil has also been a hotbed for the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease known to cause birth defects. Several Olympic athletes have declined to attend this year’s games as the city grapples to keep the epidemic at bay.
Dornelles has publicly aired his worries over the budget shortcomings, telling the Brazilian newspaper O Globo on Tuesday that, “I am optimistic about the games, but I have to show the reality.”
“We can make a great Olympics, but if some steps are not taken, it can be a big failure,” he told O Globo.