Here’s the problem with the golf course Brazil built for the 2016 Summer Olympics. What do you do with a facility that about 1,500 people are interested in out of a city of 6 million?
That’s the bitter reality for the Olympic Gofl Coruse sitting on the water’s edge in Rio de Janeiro. It took three years to use, but last week exactly four people paid to play there.
“You know that it’s not going to be easy,” Paulo Pacheco, head of the Brazilian Golf Confederation, told The Associated Press. “It’s challenging. It’s not easy to do. It’s very hard. I think it’s the only opportunity we have to improve golf in Brazil.”
Statisticians estimate that there are 20,000 people who play golf in Brazil out of a population of 200 million – that’s .01% of the population. By comparison, the US has 25 million golfers out of a population of 319 million – about 8% of the population.
Outgoing Rio mayor Eduardo Paes freely admits that the city can’t pay for the course. “It’s not a popular sport in Brazil,” Paes said last year. “But there are some things you need to do when you deliver the Olympics.”
Meanwhile economic conditions in the city are just as bad as many predicted before the Olympics – teachers and public employees have not been paid in a few months and unemployment is at 12%.
As has been the case since the very beginning of this project, getting an accurate picture of the current situation on the ground, and the best parties responsible for the short- and long-term success of the Olympic Golf Course, has been difficult,” said Ty Votaw, vice president of the International Golf Federation.