ASTANA – During its 121st session in Copenhagen, Denmark in October 2009, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) selected Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as host city for the Games of the 31st Olympiad. The large-scale event will be held next year from Aug. 5-21.
This will be the first Olympic Games to be held in South America, the second in Latin America after the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City and the first since 2000 taking place in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Astana Times recently interviewed Kazakh Ambassador to Brazil Bakytzhan Ordabayev, who also represents the country in Argentina and Chile.
How is Rio de Janeiro preparing for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games?
The next Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in four zones of the city of Rio de Janeiro: Barra, Deodoro, Maracanã and Copacabana.
The Barra da Tijuca neighbourhood, often simply called Barra, will be the heart of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Located in the western section of the city, it is surrounded by lagoons and mountains and boasts one of the best beaches in Rio.
The Barra zone will be home to Barra Olympic Park, the largest concentration of Games venues, plus the Riocentro Exhibition Centre that has four pavilions, the new Olympic golf course and the Pontal venue. In all, the 15 competition venues in Barra will stage 23 Olympic sport disciplines and 13 Paralympic sport disciplines. The zone will also be home to the Olympic and Paralympic Village, athletes’ park and international broadcasting centre-main press centre complex.
Deodoro Olympic Park will be the second largest concentration of competition venues during the Rio 2016 Games, promising a vibrant mix of traditional and newer sports. Located in the western part of Rio, the neighbourhood of Deodoro played a prominent role in the 2007 Pan-American Games, when a number of new venues were built there. This resulted in increased participation of young people in several sports and the aim is to build on this achievement through the Rio 2016 Games. A sporting legacy will be left in the shape of the X-Park, which will include the Whitewater Stadium and Olympic BMX Centre, along with a 500,000 square metre public leisure area, the second biggest in Rio.
The region has a strong military presence thanks to large barracks and two of the venues built for the Pan-Am Games that will be renovated for the Rio 2016 Games – the Olympic Shooting Centre and Olympic Equestrian Centre – are used by the army. Deodoro’s nine venues will host 11 Olympic sports and four Paralympic sports in 2016.
The Maracanã zone is in the northern part of Rio, close to the city centre. It includes two of Rio’s most famous landmarks: Maracanã Stadium, which will stage the opening and closing ceremonies and football matches, and Sambódromo, the home of the carnival parade that will host the Olympic marathon and Olympic and Paralympic archery events.
Arguably Rio de Janeiro’s most famous neighbourhood, Copacabana is defined by its 4 kilometre-long crescent-shaped beach. It is here that the beach volleyball arena will be located – at the sport’s spiritual home in Brazil. The marathon swimming, triathlon, para-triathlon, Olympic cycling road race and Paralympic marathon events will be held in the waters and land around Fort Copacabana at the southern end of the beach. In addition, this venue will stage the rowing, canoe sprint and para-canoe events.
Construction of major facilities such as the Centre of Rio and the Olympic arena has come to an end. At the same time, according to the opinion of Brazilian experts, the construction of some Olympic venues is late by 30 percent. In particular, work is delayed for preparation of a cycling road and a golf course.
Nevertheless, the administration of Rio de Janeiro has an active pace of construction. Work is underway to launch the underground, which will be delivered by the deadline. The cost of underground construction in Rio de Janeiro will amount to 8.7 billion Brazilian reals (US$2.7 billion). The city’s authorities have ordered 604 underground trains from China and 90 trains will be transferred in the near future.
In addition to the underground, work is underway on the construction of bus rapid transit (BRT) transport systems. In general, the BRT line will include 63 stations with a length of 59 km.
According to approximate data, more than 12,000 athletes from 205 countries will take part in the Games. Currently, the budget of the event is $2.93 billion, without taking into account the financial costs of the government on the development of infrastructure at the venue of the Olympic Games.
What are the benefits the 2016 Summer Olympic Games will bring to Brazil?
Thanks to Brazil’s World Cup, the number of foreign tourists visiting Brazil in 2014 grew by 10.6 percent in comparison to the year 2013. According to the Ministry of Tourism of Brazil, in June 2014 the influx of tourists tripled.
In this regard, Brazilian social scientists are already predicting a significant increase in the flow of tourists for the Olympics in 2016. For instance, 30 countries were represented at the World Cup, whereas at the Olympic Games Brazil will host more than 200 countries.
This is a unique opportunity to show Brazil to the world.
One of the main advantages of the Olympic Games is the creation of jobs as well as the development and restoration of the city’s infrastructure.
In my opinion, Brazil has had a unique opportunity to consolidate the brand “Brazil” in the international arena, as Brazil won two consecutive, significant events in the international arena, the FIFA World Cup 2014 and 2016 Olympics. This further increases the image of the country and illustrates the development of the state and its economy.
As you know, Kazakhstan has put forward the candidacy of Almaty city to host the Winter Olympic Games in 2022. Almaty is competing with Beijing, which hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008. According to Bloomberg, the most expensive Games were held in Beijing. The Chinese authorities spent $43 billion on them: $20 billion was spent on infrastructure, the construction of the Olympic Village and stadium with 80,000 seats. Do you consider it appropriate to spend such a sum? Is it not better to improve the already existing buildings, thus saving budget money?
Undoubtedly, major international events such as the Olympic Games require significant investment. It is true, however, that already-existing sports facilities do not always meet all the requirements of the IOC.
Much depends on the degree of infrastructure development of the capital which is hosting the Games. For example, the Olympic Games that were held in Atlanta in 1996 cost only $1.7 billion.
Any Olympic Games are not just sports records and achievements, but also the opportunity to get a very good capital gain. For example, after the Olympics in Beijing, air has become cleaner; thanks to the Olympic Games, 200 technology companies have switched to environmentally-friendly production methods and the city is actively developing green construction. London has become lively from 2012 due to the influx of tourists.
One of the main advantages of Almaty is the presence of objects of sport infrastructure. Seventy percent of the facilities are already available and the objects themselves are all within a radius of 35 km. In Beijing, there is also the problem of lack of sports infrastructure designed for the Olympic Winter Games and the distance between the two cities where it is planned to hold the Olympics in case of victory is about 240 km. There is no doubt Almaty has advantages in this regard.
What do you think what are additional advantages of the Almaty 2022 bid?
Of course, the real winter with beautiful scenery including renowned mountains and lakes, is a plus for our country. In addition, it should be noted that the Asian Winter Games in 2011 were held at a high level in the cities of Astana and Almaty. IOC President Jacques Rogge praised the quality of the Games. At the Asian Games, we were able to show the development of our country and the willingness to take the Olympic Winter Games.
Sunkar, the international ski jump complex, biathlon complex and renovated Shymbulak ski resort, as well as the Baluan Sholak Sports Palace and FAC Medeu, were built in Almaty on the eve of the Asian Games. Besides, Almaty was honored to host the Winter Universiade in 2017, which is an indicator of the stability of the economic potential of the country and the city.
Today, two ice arenas for 3,000 and 12,000 visitors and the athletic village for 5,000 athletes are being built in Almaty. Thus in the near future, almost the entire sports infrastructure required for the Olympic Games will be launched in the city.