Brazil is ready to do the Games as they have never been done before.
Rio 2016 president Carlos Nuzman
Tonight, at the Opening Ceremony of the first ever Olympic Games in South America, the eyes of the world will be on Rio.
Beginning tomorrow, over 10,500 athletes from 206 countries will compete in the equivalent of 42 world championships over 17 days in front of a global audience of 5 billion people. It´s no small challenge and Rio will rise to the occasion.
Does Brazil need the Games? We believe we do. For three reasons; to improve, to prove we are capable, and to bring a spirit of unity.
It appears to have become an Olympic sport in recent years for media to take a pessimistic tone and place a microscopic lens on host cities problems prior to sporting mega events. Reading some of the recent international media coverage you may be led to think the Games are an impending disaster.
In fact, the Games preparations have been on time and kept to a tight budget. The athletes are enjoying the venues, the new Metro line is running, the 44 test events have been a success, the Olympic flame is coming to the end of its 95-day journey inspiring the country, and the organising committee has not spent a single dime of public money in the process. We are not perfect. We had teething issues in the Olympic Village. We learn from our mistakes and become better for it.
Seven years ago, when Rio won the bid to host the 2016 Games, Brazil was enjoying a prosperous and optimistic moment. If asked then to describe the worst case scenario for the country in terms of political and economic crises combined with a global health scare, you would arrive at today´s scenario.
However, through adversity arrives opportunity, and we strongly believe that the Games can be the antidote to the doom and gloom. The Games can lift the national mood, unite the population behind the outstanding exploits of the athletes and show the very best of Brazil.
As Nelson Mandela said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.” And he was a man who knew about unity and inspiration.
The economic reality has forced us to find original solutions, take creative decisions and re-evaluate the must-have essentials from the nice-to-have luxuries. We have ´trimmed the fat´ to create a lean Games without excesses or white elephants.
Like any major world city, Rio has its share of problems and it´s fair to say that when Rio won the bid against illustrious opponents in the shape of Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo, it was not because of Rio´s strengths, but its weaknesses and the opportunity to bring positive benefits for the long-term future benefit of the Cariocas, as Rio residents are known.
During the bid campaign, we promised to deliver passion and transformation. Passion and warmth comes naturally to Cariocas, you will feel it in every moment. The Games are also acting as a catalyst to bring important developments to fruition across the city. For every one real invested in Olympic venues, five reals are spent on legacy projects.
When looking back, there will be a Rio before the Games, and a new, much improved Rio after the Games.
Because of the Games, the city will be connected like never before with the introduction of a new metro line, four new Bus Rapid Transit lines, a light train network, an improved airport and new roads. A redeveloped port area, 70 new hotels and a sporting infrastructure for the future generations to enjoy. The handball arena, built using nomadic architecture, will be reconstructed to create four new schools for 2,000 children following the Games.
Aside from the physical developments, Brazilians will also feel the benefits in less tangible ways. Almost one third of the Brazilian population is under 19 and Rio 2016´s education programme ´Transforma´ has reached 5 million young people. Over 1 million are being taught English as a second language – the largest programme of its kind in the world. The 50,000 Games volunteers are being upskilled ready to fill the thousands of new jobs being created.
Once the final medal is hung around the neck of the last champion athlete and the curtain is drawn on the closing ceremony, we are sure that Brazilians will look back on Rio 2016 with pride and the world will remember the first ever Games in South American for its passion and celebration. Meanwhile, Cariocas will look forward to a brighter future in the ´Marvellous City´, with memories to last a lifetime.
Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman