VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) – Though it’s hard to be exact, at least one sports travel agency says Hampton Roads is much more apt to enjoy Virginia Beach than any of the beaches in Brazil during the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
John Martin is the CEO of Great Atlantic Sports Travel, which is based in Virginia Beach and sells tickets and travel packages for some of the biggest sporting events world-wide. Martin believes Hampton Roads won’t have “more than 1,000 people that will actually go [to the Olympics,” as opposed to the estimated 3,000 that made the trip to London for the 2012 games.
“The city itself is not really prepared for the Olympics,” said Martin.
Aside from a number of competition sites still under construction, the city itself faces a number of other challenges, including dirty or contaminated water, which will be used by the competitors. Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff faces impeachment, the country is dealing with the Zika virus, and the travel into and around the country is not too desirable, says Martin.
The city only has one international airport, and the 500 events will be played at 17 different venues, some of which are separated by two or three-hour drives. “People go to the Olympics, they want to see two or three events a day, and they’re there three or four days because it’s so expensive. It’s very seldom people stay more than five days.
“Because of the traffic situation that is going to be there, the most they’ll be able to do is two,” explained Martin.
The Olympics are scheduled to start Aug. 5, and will last 17 days. The question remains if the mystique, the lure, the bang of the Olympics is still worth the buck.