Preparing for the Olympics
We had the opportunity to meet with several people in charge of creating the infrastructure needed for the massive international crowd that will be arriving in the summer of 2016 for the Olympic games. Olimpica Municipal is in charge of the in’s and out’s for Rio 2016, and they have a lot to conquer. The entire event will take place within the city limits of Rio de Janeiro and in several areas that are in need of massive renovations to accommodate the world.
“Rio is going to be recognized as the best city of the Southern Hemisphere to live work and visit,” said Thais Oliveira of the Olimpica Municipal
Before I begin discussing the various changes set to take effect in the next several years, I’d like to say that this is a project unlike anything I’ve seen. While cities in the past have seen major facelifts due to international events, and thus great strides forward in their economies and tourism, I’m almost hesitant to believe that Brazil has the capability to accomplish such a feat. There are several pieces that place Brazil and Rio de Janeiro on the cusp of becoming a dynamic force in the global arena, including the oil finds at the Pre-Salt layers, the World Cup and Olympic games, which have the potential to blast through the glass ceiling currently restricting this country from reaching its full potential.
The original port region of Rio, home of the city’s old slave port and widely considered to be an incredible historic district, is run down. Graffiti is freckled across the yellow and blue buildings that line the street and the buildings themselves are old. The public transportation in the area is currently dismal, but in the next three years, major steps are going to be taken to develop a boardwalk with a light rail system. This is where the biggest changes and developments will be made in the next three years, with the goal of transforming a once forgotten area of the city into a hub of entertainment, shopping and dining. The 2.3 billion dollar renovation will cover a 5 million square meter area with an added four kilometers of tunnels and rail systems.
The biggest addition to the entire city is the public transportation. Rio de Janeiro is planning to reduce the transport time for its citizens by 50 percent by 2016, adding 4 new expressways and 152 kilometers of railways. This massive undertaking will reach the underdeveloped areas of Rio and is going to exist for much longer than the Olympic games.
The most unique thing about Rio preparing for the first Olympics in South America is the way they are planning on utilizing the buildings after the games are over. For instance, the handball courts they will be building will eventually be disassembled and used for public schools in the area. The Olympic Park, which will house 14 Olympic games, will become a subdivision of Rio de Janeiro after the games have concluded.
This is the first time an idea like this has come about. For those who have been to China after the Olympics that took place there, they have seen how the government in Beijing has struggled to find adequate uses for venues like the Birds Nest and the Cube. Rio de Janeiro is developing transportation, buildings and other things for the games that will become essential parts of the cities future. The goal for the Olimpica Municipal is to leave a legacy that will last in the city for the next 40 years.
With the immense addition to hotels, public transportation, and the revitalization of formerly lost areas of the city, Rio de Janeiro could very well become one of the best places to visit. I plan on trying to attend Rio 2016 to see if the plans in place will succeed, or if the city has bitten off more than they can chew.