Tourists arriving at Rio de Janeiro's airport in Brazil have been greeted with a 'Welcome to Hell' sign brandished by the city's emergency services ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games. As the global spotlight falls on Rio, the state has been in the news for many of wrong reasons of late, fuelled by worries regarding safety and security at the world's premier sporting event.
With a deficit budget, Rio had to slash and delay the salaries of its state employees, including those of the police. Several police patrol cars were halted and helicopters grounded in a bid to save on fuel, as they lack money to buy even the basics.
Around 85,000 police and soldiers are expected to be deployed for the event, which is nearly twice the number of troops that London had during the 2012 Olympics. Rio is expected to receive 350,000 to 500,000 foreigner visitors during the games.
Citing budget shortfalls as threats to security and mobility, Rio de Janeiro's acting governor Francisco Dornelles warned on Tuesday (28 June 2016) that the Brazil event could be a "big failure".
'Welcome to Hell' police sign goes viral
With barely a few weeks to go until the 2016 Summer Olympics begin, one contingent of police demonstrated at Rio's international airport with banners, in English and Portuguese, that read: 'Welcome to hell. Police and fire fighters don't get paid, whoever comes to Rio de Janeiro will not be safe'.
The banner was followed by another sign outside the airport that read 'Welcome, we don't have hospitals'.
Shared across social-media, a photo of the sign has now gone viral, illustrating Rio's police and residents' concerns that the unavailability of equipment could prove dangerous during the sporting event that is expected to attract more than half a million foreign tourists.
Although most of the public funding for the Games is sponsored by the Rio city government and private companies, the state is responsible for funding the day-to-day transport and security services during the event.
According to the official, the state is still waiting for a 2.9bn Brazilian real ($860m, £643m, €772m) payout from the federal government to boost government coffers ahead of the event, which is set to begin on 5 August.