RBC Heritage

Harbour Town Golf Links

The Loop

"Occupy Golf" movement gathers steam in Brazil amid controversial Olympic plans

February 26, 2015

Golf's first appearance in the Olympics since 1904 won't happen without a few bumps along the way.

While questions have been raised in court rooms about what impact the new Olympic golf course designed by Gil Hanse for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro is going to have on the surrounding ecosystem, a group named Occupy Golf is protesting on the side of the highway near the where the course is being built. Like the more famous Occupy Wall Street, this group is attempting to make its point -- in particular about the environment and money -- peacefully. The environmental issues are straightforward: The golf course is being built on a section of land that was formerly part of the Marapendi Municipal Natural Park. The more than 610 acre park is used for leisure and environmental education -- which is where the issues come in. According to Occupy Golf's website, there are more than 300 endangered species that live on the park's land.

View image | gettyimages.com  The other problem Occupy Golf wants to solve is who's in charge of developing the course, and what exactly they're building. Here's where things get shady: Occupy basically says that the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, gave the land and permission to build on it to a wealthy Brazilian developer, Pasquale Mauro, who, according to Occupy Golf, is "a known deed falsifier." Furthermore, buildings previously located in the areas weren't allowed to be more than six stories tall, but Mauro has been permitted to build condos around the course as tall as 22 stories. Aside from its uneasiness with Mauro, Occupy Golf also isn't pleased with any private party building the golf course and the accompanying buildings because any subsequent revenue is going to go to that individual. If it had been set up to generate public revenue in a not-for-profit structure, the organization claims, the city could retroactively handle some of the economic burden hosting the Olympics is inevitably going to cause.   Occupy Golf's Facebook page has been up since late November, and it has garnered more than 7,000 followers. A video of a forceful police encounter is featured on the page, along with photos of police interacting with protestors -- not always in the most peaceful of ways. While Occupy's following isn't staggeringly large, it's not alone in its fight: Earlier this month, a case was opened against Paes exploring whether or not there was misconduct involved in the deal with Mauro, and just how much money the public is missing out on because profits are going to Mauro, not the city.