The Olympics are over for Brazil -- was it worth it?

Rio de Janeiro, Aug 22 (AFP) The Olympics ended with Brazil having shown twice in two years that it is capable of hosting the world's biggest sporting events. But was the effort worth the trouble?

The initial excitement of knowing Brazil would host both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics turned bittersweet, at best.

There were mass protests in 2013 against corruption and white elephant stadiums for the football. Then this year Brazil hit a perfect storm of political crisis, historic recession, runaway unemployment and a huge corruption scandal in the flagship national company Petrobras.

How did Rio de Janeiro and the country as a whole come out in the end?

"The main legacy of the Games was the party for Rio's people, who will never forget these days," said leading Brazilian sports analyst Juca Kfouri. "But the bill to pay will be very high."

"Hopefully the Games have also provided a bit of a lesson for Brazilian fans, although I doubt it," Kfouri added, referring to the loud booing at foreign athletes in everything from tennis to pole vaulting, and even during national anthems and medal ceremonies.

- Bitter aftertaste - =====================

The glorious days of 2009 when the Olympics were awarded to Rio are a distant memory. 

Back then, thousands of Cariocas -- as Rio natives are called -- celebrated on Copacabana beach, watching the decision live on a huge television screen.

Then president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva cried on screen and hugged football legend Pele at the Copenhagen meeting where Rio had been named as South America's first ever Olympic host.

He had started as an illiterate boy who shined shoes, became a metal worker and union leader, an opponent of the military dictatorship and finally president after three failed attempts.

The Olympics were to be his crowning achievement.

But today it is pessimism that rules. Lula faces a corruption prosecution, his chosen successor Dilma Rousseff faces imminent removal from office in an impeachment trial, and her replacement, Michel Temer, is considered by many Brazilians to be illegitimate.

"For us Brazilians it is an honor to be hosting the Olympics but this is a very sad moment in history that will always stay with us," said Fernanda Corezola, a government employee who came from Porto Alegre to watch the Games. 

PTI