Rogge in Rio
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge was in the 2016 host city of Rio de Janeiro last week to check up on the preparations for the first-ever South American Olympic Games. In his first visit to the Brazilian city since its election in October 2009, Rogge was able to participate in the laying of the foundation stone for Rio’s Olympic Village, launch a design competition for the Olympic Park, meet with local political figures, see the role that the Games are playing in transforming the city, and participate in the launch of Rio 2016’s new Olympic emblem in front of almost two million passionate New Year’s Eve revellers on Copacabana Beach.
Creating the Olympic Dream
A key part of Rogge’s visit to Brazil was seeing the progress being made on the Rio 2016 project, as the Organising Committee works to create its Olympic dream. Accompanied by the President of the Rio 2016 Organising Committee, Carlos Arthur Nuzman, and IOC Coordination Commission Chair Nawal El Moutawakel, the IOC President was able to appreciate first-hand the size and scale of what is being undertaken in the future host city. His visit also coincided with a number of important milestones in Rio’s calendar of preparations, with the foundation stone being laid for the 2016 Olympic Village, a design competition being launched for Rio’s Olympic Park, and the new emblem of the Games being successfully presented to the world on 31 December on Copacabana Beach.
Passion and Transformation
Speaking at the start of his visit, Rogge underlined the importance that the IOC places on the Games delivering a good legacy for sport and the local community. In Rio, they have clearly taken this to heart, as throughout his time in Brazil, the theme of legacy and how the Olympic Games were helping to drive the creation of a new Rio and Brazil was continually reemphasised by the local authorities. Rogge was able to appreciate a few ways in which the Games have already acted as a catalyst for Rio, as Mayor Eduardo Paes showed him the advances that were being made in the construction of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines, the new metro line four, the revitalisation taking place in the port area, and Rio’s new main operations centre, which was inaugurated during his visit. However, the legacy for Rio is more than just physical, it is also human; and Rogge saw this for himself, when he visited the Pavão-Pavãozinho community – which has benefited from the new UPP policing system - and met with some of its residents. The use of sport to improve lives and the passion of the Brazilian people for the Games clearly shone through during his short time with them.
One of the key factors for the success of the Games in any country is strong political support from all levels of government, and this was clearly evident in Rio. During meetings held at the start of the visit, Nawal El Moutawakel met with Mayor Paes, Rio Governor Sérgio Cabral, and Brazilian Sports Minister Orlando Silva before briefing the IOC President. Rogge then personally met with the Mayor and Governor, before flying to Brasilia to attend the inauguration of President Dilma Rousseff, whom he then met personally later in the day. Each level of government underlined its support for the Games and how crucial their winning had been in helping to advance the state of the city, region and country. They were all clear on the need for close integration between all levels of government and with the Rio 2016 Organising Committee concerning the 2016 project, and were confident that they would deliver great Games in 2016.
Rio de Janeiro was elected on 2 October 2009 as the host city of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad at the 121st IOC Session in Copenhagen, Denmark. Rio was elected in the third round of voting, beating the cities of Chicago (United States), Tokyo (Japan) and Madrid (Spain). Rio defeated Madrid in the third round of voting by 66 votes to 32, with Chicago and Tokyo already having been eliminated in the first and second rounds respectively. Rio 2016 will have 28 sports on its programme and will run from 5 till 21 August 2016.