RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil is in a terrible way: There is a Zika epidemic, the economy is in the toilet and a bare-knuckle brawl for the presidency has paralyzed the nation.
But all of the bad news has been temporarily supplanted by an unexpected love affair with the Olympic Games, an event that has softened the hearts of even some of the most hardened cynics who now find themselves swooning with delight and national pride.
Although many people in the poorest areas of Rio still feel that the Olympics are passing them by, a sense of giddiness is palpable across most parts of this city of six million. Working-class families dressed in the yellow and green of Brazil’s flag stroll along Copacabana’s beachfront promenade at midnight; fervid spectators have been filling stadiums with deafening cheers; and even some shrill critics who warned of chaos and bemoaned the cost overruns have changed their tune, at least for the moment.
“What a shame I decided to take a vacation out of the city during this period,” wrote Dora Kramer, a columnist for the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo and a self-described Olympic pessimist.
Like many critics, Ms. Kramer had complained that the Games were inappropriate for a city buckling under crime, rising unemployment and a fiscal crisis that has crippled schools, hospitals and local police departments.