May 22, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Recently I blogged about the appalling pollution at the sailing venue in what will be the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The larger issue surrounding that story is about how little money the flagging economy of Brazil has to deal with its environmental and social problems and yet it now is preparing for not one but two world-class sporting events sapping billions in expenditures from its economy.

Tuesday’s edition of HBO’s Real Sports included a great related story. Reporter Jon Frankel traveled to teeming Rio as well as the smaller city of Manaus and also made a compelling comparison with the economic disaster that is Greece 10 years after an Olympic Games it could not afford, either. The inescapable conclusion: Hosting an Olympics or a World Cup does nothing for those who live in the city while the profits are reaped by the IOC, FIFA and their associated television partners.

And the most useless legacy are the huge stadiums and event venues left behind, unused and worthless “white elephants.” In fact, that’s the name of the segment. Brazil has built $4 billion worth of World Cup soccer stadiums throughout the country. How they can possibly be adequately used afterward is a mystery, particularly one stuck in Manaus, possible to reach only by air or boat because it sits in the middle of the Amazon rain forest. The $250 million stadium was built with materials shipped from Portugal.

Frankel’s travels to Greece takes him to the site of the cycling velodrome and baseball and field hockey venues, all of which have stood empty and weed-strewn virtually since the Athens Olympics ended.

The kicker is this: In a country that is nuts for soccer and has not hosted a World Cup in 64 years and never an Olympic Games, rioting and protests have popped up over the expenditures being used to put on the quadrennial extravaganzas while more pressing concerns are largely ignored.

This episode of Real Sports originally aired Tuesday but can be viewed tonight at 11:15 on HBO2 and tomorrow at 12:15 and 4:30 p.m. on HBO. Here’s a web extra clip edited out from the segment but used on HBO’s website.