Olympic Concerns AboundBY CEO ROBERT FORSTER, PT
Next week I will be heading to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to support six PHASE-IV/Forster PT athletes. Dating back to the 1984 Games, this will be the 6th time I accompany US athletes on their journey to achieve the ultimate prize in sport: Olympic Gold! Each of these Olympic Games have presented unique challenges to provide comprehensive athlete support in the ethical pursuit of injury free, peak performance. Rio is different.Time zone changes, cultural differences, language barriers, transportation problems, endless security screenings (having an automatic assault weapon pressed into my abdomen was the most concerning) terrorist threats, and the Olympic authorities; who seem to hold the athlete’s needs second to TV schedules, must all be navigated to get the job done. These challenges frame our mindset going into each Olympics, but never before have we had such concern about the stability of the host country itself. With the Opening Ceremonies and competition to begin next week, the international press has been blasting us with reports regarding the unfavorable conditions in Rio. Unfinished venues and housing facilities, public health threats related to the Zika virus and unsanitary conditions; as well as doping scandals, local criminal activity, and corruption at the highest levels of the International Olympic Committee, have all been dominating the sporting news for months. If you have not followed the story: when Brazil was awarded the Games years ago, they were an oil rich country leading South America to First World status. Since then, the price of oil dropped faster than an Olympic javelin, rampant corruption has sifted away the national wealth, and the Brazil presidential impeachment hearings will be conducted during the Games. The Brazilian people protest the billions of dollars being spent on Olympic venues and infrastructure rather than being spent supporting it’s impoverished citizenry. Political demonstrations during the Games are not uncommon, but demonstrations and riots against the very presence of the Games is a new and most concerning aspect of the Rio Games. Preparations for private housing outside the Olympic Village, private security, transportation, access to safe food and water, and adequate supplies, are all being arranged for us right now. We will hit the ground running to secure our athletes needs and safety, then do our part to help these athletes make history. Kim Rhode: looking to be the first ever to win individual medals in 6 consecutive Olympics. Watch her story here. Allyson Felix: targeting 3 more Olympic Gold Medals to achieve her legacy of the most decorated US sprinter of all time. Team USA Women Wrestlers: Elena Pirozhkova, Helen Maroulis, and Adaline Gray, one of them will be the first ever to achieve Olympic Gold for Team USA Woman’s Wrestling.