Saturday,22 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1258, (13 - 19 August 2015)
Saturday,22 September, 2018
Issue 1258, (13 - 19 August 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Rio beckons the world

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff promotes the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as the greatest sports festivity in the heart of Brazil

Al-Ahram Weekly

It is still one year away, but Brazil’s heart is already beating faster. We are excited at the prospect of welcoming people from all over the world and competing with enthusiasm at a momentous sporting event.

It happened during the FIFA World Cup and it will happen again on 5 August, 2016, when we will light our passion for sports with the Olympic flame and hoist the flag of interlocking rings at our magnificent Maracanã stadium.

It is no coincidence that Brazil was given the honour of being the first South American country to host the Olympic Games. Brazil is known for its impressive and diversified landscape, its history of tolerance and respect for diversity, and we have welcomed different peoples and cultures with open arms.

Our people – workers, businesspeople, students, scientists and artists – managed to build one of the most open nations in the world, thanks to their creativity, friendliness and solidarity. We have built a vigorous culture of peace and work, which are the values that guide our hard work to turn these coming Olympics into the best ever world sports festivity. We did it during the FIFA World Cup and we have everything it takes to repeat it at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

It is a major challenge that we overcome day after day, hour after hour, long before the competitions actually start. The preparation process for the Games began with investment in the most important asset of all: our athletes. It went on with massive investments in sports infrastructure and will reach its peak with the great ongoing urban restructuring of Rio de Janeiro – doubtlessly the most beautiful natural landscape for the Olympic Games since Ancient Greece.

Throughout the last years we made huge public investments to ensure adequate material support for our athletes, their coaches and teams, with such programs as the “Athlete Scholarship” and the “Brazilian Medals Plan”. Our outstanding athletes have succeeded in continuously improving their performances with each competition. They are our great stars and source of inspiration. The results achieved by Brazil in the last Pan American Games are a concrete example of the drive of our athletes.

These investments in people and infrastructure will bring far reaching results in future years, beyond the timeframe of the Olympic Games. Indeed, we are promoting athleticism in our country among the young with investments in sports facilities across the country. This will be the greatest legacy that we will reap from the Rio 2016 Games.

We believe that education and sports are our best allies to ensure social inclusion and integration. Through them, we stimulate young people to fight for their goals, experience the joy of breaking limits, learn teamwork and respect for competitors. Sports inspire in us a culture of cooperation, honor, ethics and hard work as a means to reach our goals and celebrate our achievements. Combining it with the natural joy and self-esteem of our hospitable people will produce another great legacy of the Rio 2016 Games.

We will also have the monumental legacy of urban modernisation of Rio de Janeiro, one of the most beautiful cities in the world and our national postcard. Two thirds of the financial resources allocated to the Rio 2016 Games are being invested in the city’s urban infrastructure. Including the construction of a new metro line, a tramway connecting downtown Rio, and express bus lanes connecting all competition venues. The aim is to improve public transportation and commuting during and after the games, in particular for people who live in the most remote quarters and need good quality public transportation.

Urban transformation is just one element. The Rio Harbour area, for example, will become a new leisure and culture quarter for locals and thousands of tourists who visit every year. In the future, “Porto Maravilha” will house new office and residential buildings. We are recuperating the brightness of the Marvelous City which has enchanted the world ever since it was the capital of our country.

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games strongly attracted investments from Brazil’s private sector – and not only by sponsoring or building and modernising the hotel network. For example, the Barra Olympic Park was mostly built by private investment, including works on local infrastructure. The Olympic Village, that will host athletes from all over the world, is also being constructed by the private sector which has begun to sell these apartments.

It is possible to say that the Rio 2016 Games will receive one of the highest amounts of private investment when compared to previous Olympic Games in the last 20 years. The Deodoro Sport Complex, one of the competition venues, located in the middle of a deprived area with the largest concentration of Rio youth, will become a space for locals to play sports and serve as a training centre for our best athletes.

The Barra Olympic Park will be the foundation for future Olympic training, responsible for preparing the country’s future top athletes. It will also enhance sports cooperation with other countries, especially our neighbours in South America.

This effort is being stimulated by investments all over Brazil. In total, there are 12 training centers and 261 sports initiation centers, in addition to 46 official athletics tracks. The investment on the sport legacy in Rio and in the country amounts to $1.2 billion, and we are also providing for the cost-efficiency and sustainability of the facilities. One example is Future Arena, the venue of handball competition at the Olympic Park, which is constructed with temporary modules that will be dismantled after the Games and converted into four schools. Ensuring the smooth operation of this great project has required constant attention and a joint effort by the local, state and federal government, as well as the Organising Committee and the Olympic Public Authority. All parties will remain fully committed until the end of the Paralympic Games in September 2016.

An event with such complexity also requires constant attention to detail. Rio’s infrastructure and Olympic projects are already being tested, with the first events taking place throughout the city. By early 2016, we will have held competitions in 40 sports modalities.

Brazil is fully prepared for the upcoming Games. In cooperation with the event’s organisers, we will proudly show the world the recent accomplishments of a strong and well-functioning democracy that is committed to reducing social inequalities through economic development and investment. This is the collective effort of an entire country.

Our ability to overcome challenges will be demonstrated to all 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes, thousands of spectators and billions of viewers. Athletes and tourists will be warmly welcomed by the people of Brazil, as we saw during the 2014 World Cup when the country charmed the world with its festive atmosphere and overall safety and efficiency.

At the time, everyone watching our festivities on television must have wanted to be here in Brazil. In 2016, do not just long to be in Brazil. Come and enjoy the Olympic Games and all that a country like Brazil always has to offer: peace, love, joy, and lots of happiness.

We are waiting for you with open arms and hearts.

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