On August 5, all eyes will be on Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. During 17 days of the Olympic Games, 10,500 athletes from 205 countries will be competing for 306 medals, in 42 sports.
That will be the first time that a South American country will welcome the world to an Olympic Games. For that reason, Rio 2016 will be a special and unforgettable moment for Brazilians athletes and the general public.
How does it feel to have the opportunity to host the world in their home nation for the biggest sports competition of the year? To answer this question, Olympic.ca met with Team Brazil women’s football players Mônica, Maurine and Rafaelle.
“I am really happy that Brazil will have the chance to show the world what interesting and beautiful things we have there, like our happiness and our people,” said Mônica, a defender on the Brazil squad.
For midfielder Maurine, hosting the Olympic Games is a privilege that comes with a huge responsibility. “Our expectations are really big and our responsibility too, since the Games will be at our home. We hope we can make a good impression and Rio 2016 can be an amazing spectacle.”
Rafaelle, who joins Monica on the Brazilian backline, wants Rio 2016 to feel remarkable around the world. “I expect everyone remembers Brazil in a good way. I hope Rio 2016 has a great impact and shows the best of our country. It is our responsibility to do it well, so the tourists will be able to enjoy their moment there.”
Besides the Olympic events, what will the foreign fans remember from Brazil?
“Every country has its problems and qualities, but Brazil is going to show the world the best of Brazil and people will leave the country really happy with what they will have seen,” Monica said.
To that end Rafaelle highlights her country’s strengths. “Brazil is a friendly country, with unique culture and diversity. We want to show that to tourists. They will go to Brazil and will meet a joyful culture, samba, carnival. That is the Brazilian spirit, happy and warm. It’s going to be really nice if we could show that to the world.”
Best of Brazil
The Olympic Games will leave an important legacy for Rio. In preparing to receive around 500,000 tourists, the city has made big investments in infrastructure.
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Recently, Rio inaugurated a 28 kilometre light rail transport system – that runs from downtown and port areas to Santos Dumont Airport – and a new subway line, which links Barra da Tijuca to Ipanema Beach, serving 300,000 people a day.
Olympic venues will be reused after the Games end. The Olympic Park will be transformed into a sporting and educational complex. X-Park in Deodoro will provide training opportunities in one of the most densely populated youth areas.
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The handball venue, Future Arena, will be converted into four schools, while the Aquatics Stadium will become two public water sports facilities.
While the players aren’t naive, and acknowledge the challenges in the city and their country, the chance to welcome the world to South America for an Olympic Games is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Monica, Maurine and Rafaelle are fully embracing the opportunity to showcase the best their country has to offer, as will the Brazilian public.