Newswise — BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- With 2016 Summer Olympic Games set to begin Aug. 5 in Rio de Janeiro, Indiana University experts in economics, public health, media studies, cybersecurity, public and environmental affairs and business and are available to discuss a variety of issues. Topics include Zika and other health concerns for athletes and spectators, how coverage and marketing of the games has changed and how it might frame public discussion on other topics, and Brazil's ability to pull off a successful worldwide event and its long-term future.

Sources may be contacted directly. For further assistance, contact one of the other media contacts listed in this release.

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This tipsheet addresses the following topics:

  • Brazil has a positive story to tell the world
  • Olympics may leave a black eye for Brazil
  • Like Zika, the chikungunya virus is an important public health concern in Rio
  • Statistical modeling predicts how athletes will do in the pool
  • Olympics' large audience will provide unique venue for discussing public health concerns, including Zika
  • Social media and video-on-demand present challenges for television coverage
  • Rio 2016 presents a golden opportunity for cyber criminals and hacktivists
  • Olympics could provide athletes with platform to address social issues
  • Competitors' concerns about water safety are genuine
  • The challenge of leveraging an Olympic sponsorship investment
  • Olympics a chance to showcase innovation, entrepreneurship
  • Other pursuits of 'gold' during the Rio Olympics
  • Getting to the Olympics involves more than a lot of training

Brazil has a positive story to tell the world

The Rio Olympics may bring attention to the unsavory aspects of life in Brazil, including pollution, corruption, political conflict and the Zika virus. But the bigger picture is that Brazil is an economic and governance success story, says IU Bloomington economic historian Lee Alston.

In the new book “Brazil in Transition (Princeton University Press),” Alston and his co-authors argue that Brazil is making a critical transition to become one of the relatively few nations with a strong, sustainable economy and a stable system of governance. They attribute this to a change in beliefs – Brazil’s embrace of what they call “fiscally responsible social inclusion” – and a resulting change in institutions.

“Very few countries make that transition,” Alston said. “If we look at the countries that were wealthy and successful in 2000, they are pretty much the same countries as in 1900.”

Alston, the Ostrom Chair and professor of economics and law, makes these points:

  • Staging big international events like the Olympics may not produce economic benefits that outweigh their cost, but they do give the host nation an opportunity to showcase its assets and tell its story. In the case of Brazil, the overall story is a good one.
  • There is a risk in that visitors and news media will focus on the negative. Along with pollution and Zika, high-profile cases of government corruption and the looming impeachment trial of President Dilma Rousseff will provide plenty of fodder.
  • Critics have questioned whether Brazil can stage a big international event like the Olympics. But it successfully hosted the 2014 World Cup, arguably a bigger challenge because the matches were spread around the country. “It won’t be perfect,” Alston said, “but I’m pretty confident the games will be pulled off reasonably well.”

To speak with Alston, email him at [email protected] or contact Steve Hinnefeld at 812-856-3488 or [email protected].

Olympics may leave a black eye for Brazil

When Rio de Janeiro was first awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics, Brazil’s economy was evolving in impressive ways. The country was seeing economic growth, was more financially stable, and its democracy was strengthening itself. Yet in recent years as commodity prices fell, Brazil started seeing a very different situation in terms of national income. Add in the typically negative rate of return on hosting the Olympic games, and this may not help the country’s long-term situation economically, said Phil Powell, associate dean of the IU Kelley School of Business at Indianapolis and a clinical associate professor of business economics and public policy.

“Here you have the province of Rio, which is bankrupt. This is like the state of Indiana being bankrupt and hosting the Olympics. You couldn’t provide police services, roads can’t be kept up, and everything you’re doing is being slapped together with straw and band-aids. Brazil made this huge commitment, yet everyone now is expecting them to fall short,” Powell said. “Take Montreal or Athens. When those cities hosted the Olympics, they lost substantial amounts of money in facilities they never use. It didn’t help their long-term situation economically.”

Yet Powell, who has traveled to Rio, remains optimistic about the long-term future for Brazil. “Brazil has a lot of potential, but it’s stressed in terms of income equality. It’s a land of contrasts. Rio was exhilarating: the energy, the people, the entrepreneurship and the beautiful beaches. But crime is high, so you have to be vigilant when traveling in certain areas,” he said.

“I think the long term trajectory for Brazil is good, but I think the Olympics may give Brazil a black eye. You recover from a black eye, but it hurts, it’s tender, and you don’t look that good while you have it,” said Powell.

To speak with Powell, contact Teresa Mackin at 317-274-2233 or email [email protected].

Like Zika, the chikungunya virus is an important public health concern in Rio

Recent explosive outbreaks of Zika and chikungunya viruses throughout the Americas has raised concerns about threats that these diseases may pose to the Rio Olympic Games -- particularly the possibility that these viruses could be transmitted worldwide through spectators and others attending the games.

Max Jacobo Moreno-Madriñán, an assistant professor of environmental health science at the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI, said that while most attention has been placed on Zika, a bigger concern could be chikungunya, which causes severe muscle and joint pain and is often misdiagnosed as dengue fever.

“Vector transmission of these viruses is strongly dependent on socioeconomic and climatic conditions,” Moreno-Madriñán said. “Because of the colder temperature in Rio during this time of the year, and possibly a decrease in the number of susceptible individuals, public health authorities have detected a decreasing number of infections for Zika virus, chikungunya virus and dengue since a couple of weeks ago.

“Indeed, chikungunya could even be a greater concern than Zika since not as many individuals have been infected with chikungunya virus in Rio as there have been with Zika virus, so there are lots of susceptible people,” he added.

Moreno-Madriñán, who is originally from neighboring Colombia, noted that the surveillance secretary in Rio is taking measures to provide mosquito control at key locations for the games and where athletes are staying. But he also cited that Brazil is going through a difficult crisis period.

“Climate change, globalization, poverty and urbanization represent risk factors for the geographical redistribution of these diseases, but Zika virus specifically has the additional concern of being the first arbovirus that could go worldwide even in places with no vector history due to the possibility of sexual transmission,” he said.

Moreno-Madriñán can be reached at 317-274-3170 and [email protected].

Statistical modeling predicts how athletes will do in the poolWhat can we expect to happen at the 2016 Rio Olympic Aquatic Stadium? IU’s Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming is forecasting who will win the races in swimming, based on mathematical models and past performances.

The center uses statistical models based on performance times of Olympic finalists for each Olympics since 1972. The model crunches the fastest eight male and female performances in all Olympic swimming events from 1972 to 2012, according to Joel Stager, director of the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming and professor in Kinesiology at IU’s School of Public Health-Bloomington. Using the mean time across all years, a best-fit power curve is calculated for each swim event.

“In 2008, 65 percent of all of the Olympic swim events were faster than predicted,” Stager said. “For the previous five Olympics combined, only 9 percent of the events were faster (or slower) than our model.”

According to the model, Stager predicts U.S. swimmers will do well this year.

Stager and colleagues can be reached at Indiana University’s Counsilman Center, 812-855-1637 or [email protected].

Olympics' large audience will provide unique venue for discussing public health concerns, including ZikaJessica Myrick, a media psychology expert and an assistant professor in the IU Media School and a former professional distance runner, studies the role of emotions in shaping our reactions to media as well as how we process and respond to health information.

“The Olympics are one of the most emotional events we see in the media. Between the triumph and the tears, there is no shortage of feelings flowing through news coverage and into our living rooms," Myrick said. "It’s why so many people watch the Olympics even if they aren’t normally die-hard track and field or rowing fans -- we are all sucked in by the emotional narratives of the athletes, by the drama and suspense of each event, and by pride for our country.

“This Olympics in Rio is also interesting from a health communication perspective as both athletes and spectators will encounter a number of severe health risks, including the Zika virus and antibiotic-resistant bacteria," she added. "News media coverage of the Olympics will no doubt overlap with stories about these health concerns, and the way in which reporters talk about these issues can shape how willing the American public is to push legislators and policymakers to address them, too.

"The athletes themselves will likely also use social media to talk about the state of their health and these potential threats, providing another channel for informing American audiences thousands of miles away about health threats.”

Myrick, author of the 2015 book "The Role of Emotions in Preventative Health Communication (Rowman & Littlefield)," can be reached at 812-856-7380 or [email protected].

Social media and video-on-demand present challenges for television coverageGalen Clavio, director of the National Sports Journalism Center and associate professor of sports media in the IU Media School, is curious to see how television coverage from rights holder NBC is received by Olympic Games fans, particularly on social media.

"There's an obvious and difficult conflict that NBC has to deal with, and it deals directly with trying to balance the needs of two different audiences," Clavio said. "On the one hand, NBC has to satisfy their traditional Olympics audience, who wants to watch compelling stories of elite American athletes during primetime. On the other hand, you've got a younger demographic who wants to watch events live as they happen, rather than on tape delay, and wants equal coverage of top athletes regardless of their nationality.

"NBC has taken a lot of flak from online fans and journalists for their television coverage approach during the last few Olympics. An entire Twitter hashtag, #NBCFail, organically appeared during the 2012 Games that people used as an outlet for frustrations with the network's approach. But it's never quite so simple as those critics make it out to be. A lot of people, particuarly older viewers, prefer to watch the Olympic Games in a certain way, and NBC seems to consider that their primary audience," he said.

Clavio says that the brand recognition of the Olympics, combined with the younger audience's adaptation to both social media and video-on-demand, have led to the conflict and criticism over NBC's coverage.

"The Olympic Games feature the best athletes in the world, competing live in various events for almost three straight weeks. Many younger fans who were weaned on ESPN's 24-hour coverage of sports and who have found like-minded online communities on Twitter and Reddit want to share the experience of watching those games as they happen, not wait for a pre-packaged and edited version of events they already heard the results of on social media hours earlier," Clavio said. "NBC has taken a lot of steps to satisfy those fans. This includes beefing up their social media coverage, holding a separate 'Social Media Opening Ceremony' with Ryan Seacrest, bringing in 'influence partners' with tens of millions of existing followers to promote their coverage, and adding 1,000 more hours of live streaming than they had four years ago. The question is, will that be enough?"

Clavio can be reached at 812-855-3367 or at [email protected].

Rio 2016 presents a golden opportunity for cyber criminals and hacktivists

While 17,000 athletes and coaches compete for one of 300 gold medals being awarded at the 2016 Rio Olympics, an experienced criminal element is expected to vie for the spoils from them and the half million spectators expected to attend the games, according to Scott Shackelford, associate professor of business law and ethics in the IU Kelley School of Business in Bloomington and a noted cybersecurity expert.

"For criminals, the Olympic Games afford a target-rich environment in which visitors from around the world converge in a place already well known for its cyber insecurity," Shackelford said. "In fact, one survey named Brazilian firms as having the worst cybersecurity in South America, if not on the planet."

"But the games are more than just a mega event for tourists. They also afford a golden opportunity for politically motivated hacktivists, as well as nation states, to have their views heard," he added. "From interrupting the opening or closing ceremonies, to interfering with timers and tracking programs, to targeting vulnerable critical infrastructure around venues, the games present a wealth of cyber insecurity even for the most prepared hosts.

"Unfortunately, to date it seems that cybersecurity has taken a back seat to other concerns on the run up to Rio, but it would not take much to put them on the front burner. Just ask the Democratic National Commitee."

Shackelford teaches cybersecurity law and policy at Kelley and is a senior fellow at the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, a national fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is author of the recent book "Managing Cyber Attacks in International Law, Business and Relations: In Search of Cyber Peace (Cambridge University Press)."

To speak with Shackelford, call him at 812-856-6728 or send him an email at [email protected].

Olympics could provide athletes with platform to address social issues

Several athletes, like others troubled by high-profile shootings of black citizens and racial divide in the United States, are increasingly using their platform of sport to promote harmony and social change. Jayma Meyer, a visiting scholar who teaches sports law and public policy at the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs, believes that some competitors in Rio will be inspired by the late Muhammed Ali, Billie Jean King and others to highlight social issues.

“Athletes have said they will use the Olympics this year as yet another platform to bring attention to these insidious events, to renounce violence and to help bring about changes,” Meyer said. “Will athletes violate Olympic rules by protesting at Olympic events and ceremonies and risk having their medals stripped and being suspended from the games?”

Rule 50 of the Olympic charter restricts political gestures or protest by athletes.

“Sport, and particularly the Olympics, is a powerful tool for peace,” she said. “Sport also is an equalizer. It has the power to bring about gender equity both in participation and leadership roles.”

Since 2012, women have participated in every Olympic sport at the games, and the United States has made great progress in female participation rates, Meyer noted. At the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, 47.9 percent of the U.S. team were women; while at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, the U.S. team is predicted to have a 52.6 percent women’s participation rate.

“Still, leadership roles for women at the Games continue to lag,” Meyer added. “For example, the executive committee of the International Olympic Committee has only four women members out of a total of 15 spots. The board of directors of the U.S. Olympic Committee has five women members out of 16 total members. Thus, women have come a far way since first being included in the games in 1900, but there is work left to be done, especially in leadership roles.”

Meyer is an experienced litigator of Title IX cases and lectures throughout the U.S. on the power of sports and gender equity. She is a board member of the Women’s Sports Foundation (founded by King) and the National Women’s Law Center She can be reached at 212-455-3935 and [email protected].

Competitors' concerns about water safety are genuine

Environmental concerns have been making headlines since the announcement Rio secured the 2016 summer Olympics. One major area of concern is water pollution. Jo Anna Shimek, clinical faculty in Environmental Health at IU’s School of Public Health-Bloomington, said participants in this year’s games have a right to be concerned about water quality.

“While the swimming competitions will take place in indoor pools, sports such as rowing and sailing will take place in the open water outside Rio. Potential exposures to bacteria and chemicals in these waters are of particular concern to the athletes,” Shimek said. “Contact with the water may result in exposure to bacteria and irritating chemicals and should be avoided.”

Shimek has a Ph.D. in public health with a concentration in environmental and occupational health and is board certified in safety and industrial hygiene. She studies the effects of radon as well as assessment methods for exposure to chemicals and other agents in the environment, such as lead.

To speak with Shimek, email her at [email protected].

The challenge of leveraging an Olympic sponsorship investment

In previous Olympics, the International Olympic Committee tightly controlled access to viewing audiences with strict rules about what merchandise, logos, etc. could be seen at venues. This included what products athletes were allowed to bring to their competitions, and some athletes protested this rule -- known as “Rule 40”-- in years past. In 2016, the IOC has relaxed that rule a bit, asking for brands to file paperwork for a waiver if interested.

“To be a world-class athlete requires years and years of training, which is expensive. Athletes seek sponsorships early in their careers. Over time, they become extremely loyal to these brands, in part because of the support they receive, and also because they’ve gotten used to these products in their training. They want to show their support when they are on the Olympic stage, too,” said Kim Saxton, a clinical associate professor of marketing at the IU Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis.

“It makes sense that many brands want to support a winning athlete throughout their career, but not all of these brands can be Olympic sponsors because of costs and exclusivity agreements. The challenge for the IOC will be ensuring that official sponsors get their money’s worth while allowing athletes to support the brands they believe in. While the rule change creates opportunities for smaller brands, it will also make the IOC even more concerned with compliance,” said Saxton, who has worked with executives from Fortune 500 and other large companies, including Nike, to provide strategic planning and market research services.

Saxton can be reached at 317-274-0167 or [email protected]. For additional assistance, contact Teresa Mackin at 317-274-2233 or [email protected].

Olympics a chance to showcase innovation, entrepreneurship

Every other year, the Olympic Games incite and inspire both athletes and non-athletes around the world. Todd Saxton, an associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship with the IU Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis, looks at the games as a showcase of innovation and entrepreneurship.

"Innovation often comes at the pinnacle of performance -- from the most demanding and competitive user or customer pushing the envelope of performance,” said Saxton. “This inspiration can drive subsequent benefits to the rest of us, including recreational athletes and weekend warriors alike in the sporting arena."

From high jumper Dick Fosbury, who pioneered the "Fosbury Flop" in the 1968 Mexico Olympics, to swimmer David Berkoff’s underwater kick dubbed the "Berkoff Blast" 20 years ago, athletes experiment and sometimes land on innovations that change human possibility. Take the efforts of IU alumnus and Canadian high jumper Derek Drouin, Saxton notes, who recently changed his technique to jump even higher. Saxton said we can learn from, and be inspired by, these new techniques and methods from top competitors and companies to reach new levels ourselves.

“Where would we be without the Roger Bannisters of the world? As a medical student and runner, his experimentation with new training techniques like interval and lactate threshold training led to the first sub-4 minute mile. Entrepreneurship, innovation, and human achievement are inextricably linked -- both in sport and in business,” said Saxton, who has completed multiple Ironman events.

Saxton can be reached at 317-274-3349 or [email protected]. For additional assistance, contact Teresa Mackin at 317-274-2233 or [email protected].

Other pursuits of 'gold' during the Rio Olympics

Jay Gladden, dean of the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management at IUPUI and founding executive director of the Sports Innovation Institute, will be watching the pursuit of gold at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. And this gold doesn't come in the form of a medal that is hung around a winning athlete's neck.

An expert in sports branding and sport marketing, Gladden will be keeping an eye on efforts by Olympic athletes, along with their agents, to capitalize on their successes. Gladden also will be watching the actions of corporate sponsors, along with their partners, whether those partners are a team or a country, in the digital arena.

“Brands have invested heavily in social media programs tied to Rio 2016. Competition to engage consumers will be even more fierce in 2016 as restrictions around advertising through individual athletes have been reduced,” Gladden said. “All official Olympic sponsors will have some form of digital/social media activation strategy linked to Rio 2016. The degree to which these programs are successful may hinge on the success of individual athletes involved in campaigns."

His views are informed by working with a variety of organizations including the Indianapolis 500 Festival, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Compaq Computer Corp., Iowa State University, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Pittsburgh Pirates, Purdue University and the United States Figure Skating Association.

Gladden can be contacted at 317-278-2826 or [email protected]

Getting to the Olympics involves more than a lot of training

The Olympics is the pinnacle of many athletes’ careers. But how does an athlete get there? David Hancock, assistant professor of health sciences at IU Kokomo, said we often think "practice, practice, practice," but the truth is, intense training schedules lead to burnout more than it leads to success.

“It’s a common misconception to think that intense practice from a young age is the best way to achieve elite sport success," said Hancock, who also is the head men's and women's golf coach at IU Kokomo. "The best athletes typically had plenty of opportunity for unorganized play, did not start intense practice until 13 years old or later, and had supportive -- not overbearing -- coaches and parents. This goes against conventional wisdom, but for most sports, it is supported by research."

Hancock also studies the referees and umpires who adjudicate competitions. “The Olympics is not only a competition for athletes, but also for the officials who work the games. They compete to be selected for the Olympics, and they compete to officiate in the finals. Every decision they make is scrutinized, making it an incredibly challenging environment in which to succeed,” he said.

Hancock can be reached at 765-455-9234 or [email protected].