BRASILIA: Five months out from the Rio Olympics, Brazil’s government continued its slide into chaos with the resignation of Sports Minister George Hilton writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Hilton was appointed in December 2014 by newly re-elected President Dilma Rousseff to succeed Aldo Rebelo who seen Brazil through the World Cup and become Minister of Science and Technology.
A congressman since 2007, Hilton had never spoken in parliament on sports issues and his appointment came under fire from Brazilian athletes, led by former World Cup-winner Rai and Olympic volleyball star Ana Moser.
Their organisation, Athletes for Brazil, said it was “embarrassed and disappointed” to see sport in Brazil being treated with contempt.
Hilton’s replacement now by Ricardo Leyser, a former long-serving Minister for Elite Sport, was seen in Brasilia as a politically-inspired move.
Leyser, like Rebelo, is a senior member of the PC do B – the Communist Party of Brazil – while Hilton was a member of the PRB, the Republic Party, which has been increasingly critical of Rousseff.
Expectations for the staging of the Rio Games in August have grown increasingly fraught despite confident predictions by Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes and local organising president Carlos Nuzman.
The collapse of the economy., the Petrobras corruption scandal and the impeachment threat to Rousseff have been exacerbated on the sporting side by the controversy over the likely non-appearance of Russian athletes – and possibly wrestlers and swimmers – in the doping cover-up scandal.