University of Memphis students are taking extra safety precautions as they prepare for their trip to Rio de Janeiro, where they will cover the 2016 Summer Olympics as journalism interns for the Olympic News Service.
The group of 14 students leave for Brazil Friday morning.
Rio has struggled for months to prepare for the millions of visitors expected to visit in August. Poverty, crime and unsanitary conditions plague the city’s streets.
“Do I wish it were in a safer city? Yes,” Anna Joy Batchelor said, taking a break from packing for her big trip to sit down with FOX13’s Kristin Leigh for an interview. “I'm not sure that Rio was prepared to host it. From what I understand, they had no business hosting it.”
This week, Olympic athletes have complained of unsanitary housing conditions. Last week, 10 suspected ISIS sympathizers were arrested after investigators discovered plans for Olympic terrorist attacks.
The South American country of Brazil is the hub of the Zika outbreak.
“I’m slightly worried, yes,” Batchelor said. “You just have to be careful.”
Batchelor graduated from U of M in December, but qualified for the student internship as a senior. She told FOX13 the opportunity to go to the Olympics is a dream come true.
Batchelor has been a gymnast since she was a toddler, spending hours at the sport every day until she was 18.
“Growing up, gymnastics was my entire life,” Batchelor said. “When I was eight years old, I asked my mom if all gymnasts got to go to the Olympics, because that's your goal, you know. Sadly I came to the realization that most gymnasts don't make it to the Olympics.”
“I get to college, and decided to major in journalism and I love journalism,” Batchelor continued. “Now it's interesting that the two things that I love in life are coming together, and I get to fulfill that dream.”
The trip was made possible by Dr. Roxane Coche, Batchelor’s professor.
“I went to the World Cup in Brazil,” Coche said. “I loved the country, and I missed it. I wanted to go back. I decided, hey let's try to build something for my students.”
Coche contacted the Olympic News Service, and they accepted her offer. The students are paying for their flights and travel expenses, but will be housed for free in the Olympic’s media village.
“We'll take the precautions we have to take,” Coche said. “It's a big opportunity. I didn't want to miss out on it.”
“The students are as prepared as the athletes to go to Rio,” Coche added. “They’ve been given the same information.”
They won’t be there alone. Millions are expected to flood Rio in August for the Olympic Games.
Batchelor said she’s done her best to research the community, and take precautions.
“They've given us plenty of things to stay away from,” Batchelor said, as she named precautions she plans to take. “Don't use ATM's in public. Use them in the arenas. Don't get your cell phones out in public, don't wear jewelry. Don’t drink the water. I mean, we can just take as many precautionary measures as possible. And whatever happens, happens, you know?”
While she’s a little hesitant, Batchelor’s excited for the
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