On Friday, 2nd October 2009, the countdown to the achievement of a dream began: Olympic Games 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. The Brazilian city beat Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid at the election of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) held in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Rio won against Madrid in the last round by 66 votes to 32. On announcing the chosen city, the president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, touched not only those who were present, but the entire nation, that waited anxiously for the result. The victory was not only Brazilian or the „Marvelous City” (Cidade Maravilhosa), as shown by the official application video, but it was a victory for the whole continent as the 2016 Olympics will be the first held in South America.
The Olympics go beyond the competition between athletes. An event of this proportion is able to modify and promote the economy of the city and the host country, changing its landscape not only for athletes and tourists, but also for the local population. Improvements in the transport network, housing, sports facilities and the generation of new jobs are just some of the positive points about the Olympics. Barcelona, in Spain, underwent countless changes in order to host the Games in 1992. After that, the Spanish city reestablished itself as a major tourist destination in Europe.
Hosting the Olympic Games requires seriousness and commitment, especially regarding the infrastructure of the host city. In Rio, more than half of the facilities for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Rio 2016 are already built because they were made for the Pan and Parapan American Games 2007.
But why “Rio de Janeiro”? The Portuguese arrived in the city on 1st January 1502. They thought Guanabara Bay was a river, and named the city Rio de Janeiro, which means January River in English. In 1763 Rio de Janeiro became the capital of Brazil and, at the time of the Napoleonic invasions, the capital of the Portuguese Empire. The city lost the title of capital of the republic in 1960, when Brasília was inaugurated.
Rio de Janeiro city is the capital fo the state Rio de Janeiro. It is probably the best known Brazilian city abroad, whether for its natural beauty, Carnival or violence, which are always news. Security is an obvious concern: the city is known for robberies, which are sometimes violent, to tourists and residents on the streets. The governor of the state Rio de Janeiro, Sergio Cabral, has announced that the amount of policeman in the city will increase considerably. The authorities will ask the FBI, Scotland Yard and the police of France, Germany and Israel for technological help.
Rio is undoubtedly one of the main social and cultural centers in Brazil. The largest conglomerate of media and communications in Latin America is located there. Brazil has the largest economy in Latin America, the tenth largest economy in the exchange rate market, expected to be the fifth by 2016, according to the IMF (International Monetary Fund). The Brazilian Internet users represent a share of 40% of the market in Latin America. The country exports aircraft, automobiles, soybean, iron ore, orange juice, steel, ethanol, textiles and footwear .
The Olympics bring job opportunities to those who are fluent in another language, especially English. Being able to speak another language is essential in an event of this size, since Portuguese is not as widespread as English or Spanish. But the lack of language knowledge does not prevent Brazilians from communicating. In a survey conducted by the Universities of Michigan and California, Rio de Janeiro was chosen among 50 world cities as the one with the most amiable people in the world.
Brazilians are very hospitable. The kind of people that strive to speak the tourists’ language, using mime and lots of gestures, speaking loud and even louder, making every effort to understand and be understood by them. Be sure: if you go to the Olympics 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, the bab.la Survival Guide will be very useful, but a smile, open heart and willingness to accept the Brazilian way of life will be fundamental.
Hosting the 2016 Games is a huge challenge for Rio de Janeiro, but that will serve as encouragement and motivation for the city to become a better place. Resilience, team spirit, determination, willpower and dedication are the hallmark of the Olympic Games, which will help transform Rio de Janeiro into an even more Marvelous City.