This Is What Rio Looks Like on the Eve of the Olympics 

By Sophie Kleeman on at

The 2016 Summer Olympics are scheduled to kick off in Rio de Janeiro in two weeks. The Games will undoubtedly draw many people, both in person and via broadcasts. But while the events themselves are the attraction, a new photo series from the Associated Press shows the devastating reality of what’s happening just beyond the Olympic Village in Rio’s violent, gang-dominated slums.

Rio’s violence, much of which comes from gang warfare and drug trafficking, has been making headlines around the world in recent months. And for good reason: the murder rate has increased by 15 per cent and the robbery rate by 30 per cent since last year.

These new photos taken by Felipe Dana throughout June and July gives some real-world context for those numbers.

This Is What Rio Looks Like on the Eve of the Olympics 
“A drug gang leader poses for a photo in a slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He told Associated Press journalists that drug dealers win the hearts and minds of locals by paying for food and medicine, providing a lifeline for many living in crushing poverty.”

“In these communities you can see what real life is like. This is our reality,” one anonymous drug trafficker told the AP.

This Is What Rio Looks Like on the Eve of the Olympics 
“A pair of flip-flops alongside a stream of blood from a homicide victim in Seropedica, in greater Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The victim was a young, black man and according to people at the scene it was a gang-related shooting. Just the night before, 11 people were killed in separate incidents, the majority gang related.”

The violence, of course, isn’t gripping all of Rio. It’s primarily happening in the city’s favelas “where poverty, drug gangs and young men with assault rifles dominate life for hundreds of thousands of residents,” the AP reports. (Bodies can be seen in some photos; while we’re not posting them here, they can be found in the rest of the gallery.)

This Is What Rio Looks Like on the Eve of the Olympics 
“A police officer patrols among residents during an operation against drug traffickers at the ‘pacified’ Jacarezinho slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.”

This Is What Rio Looks Like on the Eve of the Olympics 
“Young drug traffickers pose for a photo wielding their weapons. Teenagers openly tote guns while they work as guards, lookouts and distributors for drug lords operating just a few miles from where hundreds of thousands and tourists and athletes will be for the Aug. 5-21 Olympic Games.”

This Is What Rio Looks Like on the Eve of the Olympics 
“Residents watch as police work the crime scene where a man was murdered in Mage, greater Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.”

This Is What Rio Looks Like on the Eve of the Olympics 
“A police officer takes position near residents during an operation against drug traffickers at the ‘pacified’ Jacarezinho slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.”

This Is What Rio Looks Like on the Eve of the Olympics 
“Young drug traffickers pose for photos holding their guns at a slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.”

The 2016 Olympics themselves have already been a giant clusterfuck, and the Games haven’t even started: Doping scandals (plural), sewage problems, murdered mascots, Zika, protests, financial emergencies, creepy surveillance, and bad infrastructure, to name a few.