Olympic Games Rio 2016

If Rio de Janeiro was a human being and not a city it would be crawling slowly instead of walking upright, crushed as it is under the weight of global expectations. A World Cup and an Olympics in the space of two years is both an enormous coup and a massive burden on any country and any city, let alone a city known for its on-going battle against organized crime and street violence.
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Rio Olympics 2016 Official Logo
But despite this pressure and these hurdles, Brazil is nothing if not confident.
The celebration of sport is written in this country’s DNA, from the screaming skilful football matches on every street corner to the fear that strikes the heart of any international football team faced with the dreaded Brazilian foe. The anticipation that is building up in the months to the World Cup 2014 is laced with excitement at a tournament held in the heart of football and the home of Carnival.
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But some observers point out that the Games of the XXXI Olympiad pose an even greater challenge – both for security and for logistics. The London Olympics had sold nine million tickets in the run-up to the event, and that’s not including the immense number of visitors happy to soak up the atmosphere in the city that summer without stepping foot inside a stadium. On the other hand the 2010 World Cup in South Africa had a total estimated attendance of just over three million people, 65% less than official attendance in London last summer.
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Rio Olympics 2016 Solar city towerWhen faced with these figures Rio de Janeiro needs to be completely on top of infrastructure, accommodation, and security issues. In the run-up to both the World Cup 2014 and the Olympics the struggle between Brazilian police and gang violence has been well documented by the international media. Frequent raids on the favelas of Rio have brought violence out into the open as the state attempts to eradicate as much crime as possible before its turn on the world stage. It remains to be seen whether this approach will herald a victory for the Brazilian security forces. However, recent figures show that the supposed threat of gang violence towards foreign visitors has decreased over the past five years, with incidents mainly confined to favela neighbourhoods away from the trodden path of tourists.
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A more worrying development is the state-sponsored requisition of historic favela communities in order to build accommodation for incoming attendees. The community of Morro da Providência at the heart of Rio, is one such neighbourhood steeped in history, culture, and familial ties that has been targeted for rapid development. This will include the construction of long-overdue community amenities, as well as a new cable car, but has also initiated a soar in house prices and a move to displace certain residents in order to pave way for a road and a covered football field. The balance between improvement and destruction is fragile in the eyes of some.
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Rio Olympics 2016 Official LogoLooking forward though, the vision for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics will be an astounding spectacle if plans run relatively smoothly. As the first South American nation to host the games, the first Lusaphone-country to host, and the first time the games has been held in the host-nations winter, Brazil has a lot of precedents to set. The epicentre of the games will be in Barra da Tijuca-home to the Olympic Village as well as the majority of the events. The rest of the action will take place between the three other zones of  Copacabana Beach,  Maracanã,  and  Deodoro.
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One of the biggest renovations currently underway is the total revamp of Rio’s historical waterfront downtown, known as Porto Maravilha. This massive project covers an area of 1,200 acres including 700 kilometers of public networks, 70 kilometers of roads, 70 kilometers of roads, and 17 kilometers of bike paths.
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Now is the time for anxiety and preparation for Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. The first test is the World Cup, which once passed will let the municipal forces breathe a little easier. The big event though is still over three years away. Despite the enormous work that goes into the Games of the XXXI Olympiad and the pressure that is almost engulfing the organizers at this moment, the amazing success of London 2012 and the sheer will and vivacity of the Brazilian people should bring greater optimism to everyone involved. To be in Rio in the winter of 2016 is to have an opportunity of a lifetime.
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