There are six months to go until the start of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but this does not mean that sports fans need to wait until August to watch elite sports in the city. From February to May, Rio 2016 will stage a further 22 test events to warm up the city for the Olympic and Paralympic Games – and the two most exciting competitions will have tickets for sale.
The first one, the FINA Diving World Cup, will bring together the sport’s global elite from 19 to 24 February at Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre. There will be 272 athletes from 49 countries competing for 92 Olympic places, in 18 individual events and five synchronised events. Tickets are on sale, costing R$30 (full-price) and R$15 (half-price).
In April, it will be gymnastics’ turn when the test event doubles up as the final qualifying competition: 284 athletes in the sport’s three disciplines (artistic, rhythmic and trampoline) will come together at Rio Olympic Arena from 19 to 22 April in pursuit of the last places at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The diving and gymnastics competitions are just a small part of what is to come, at a faster pace than ever. The next 22 test events will take place in just four months, whereas the first 23 Aquece Rio (Rio Warms Up) competitions were held over seven months (without counting the first sailing test event, in August 2014).
Barra, which will host the largest number of Rio 2016 competitions, will also be Aquece Rio’s busiest zone in the Olympic year – there will be 16 test events in this west Rio neighbourhood. After Carioca Arena 1, five new arenas in the region will be debuting in this year’s test events: the Olympic Golf Course, Rio Olympic Velodrome, Carioca Arena 3, Olympic Aquatics Stadium and Future Arena. (The last four are part of Barra Olympic Park, which is now 97% complete.)
There will be three test events in Deodoro, two at new venues: Deodoro Stadium, which will host rugby, and the Youth Arena, which will host the fencing section of the modern pentathlon. The Maracanã zone will host the Olympic and Paralympic athletics test events, completing the Aquece Rio calendar on 21 May. The Copacabana zone, whose venues and sports were all tested in 2015, is the only zone that will not stage any test events this year.
The first series of test events allowed for final adjustments to be made at all the Copacabana venues. The triathlon, rowing, sailing, road cycling, beach volleyball, marathon swimming and canoe sprint competitions tested operations at Fort Copacabana, Lagoa Stadium, Marina da Glória and the temporary beach volleyball arena.
Rio 2016’s three other zones have also already been fine-tuned through test events. In the Maracanã region, the world’s best archers paraded their skills at the Sambódromo, while the planet’s top volleyball stars thrilled fans in the Maracanãzinho arena.
In the Deodoro zone, five venues have already been tested: the Olympic Hockey Centre, Olympic Equestrian Centre and the three that make up the X-Park – the mountain bike and BMX tracks, and the canoe slalom circuit. With everything ready for the Games, the X-Park has since December been in pre-legacy mode, providing valuable leisure facilities that will remain for the underprivileged local population after the Games.
In Barra, Riocentro Pavilion 4 hosted the first competitions, but recently only the Olympic Park has held events. TheOlympic Tennis Centre and Carioca Arena 1, which hosted the last four events, were the first venues at the main Rio 2016 venues cluster to stage Aquece Rio events. After the Games, elite sport and education will be the main pillars of the Rio 2016 Games’ legacy, alongside social projects and events.