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Rio hosting the Olympics

Rio_Olympics_in_2016On 2 October 2009, Rio de Janeiro was announced as the host city for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Games had arrived, at last, in South America. Brazil had already been appointed to host the next FIFA World Cup in 2014.

Although no longer the capital of Brazil or its largest city, Rio is not unused to the limelight.  In 1808 it became the capital of the Portuguese Empire, which at the time stretched beyond Europe and the Americas to Africa and Asia.  The natural setting of the city, combining blue sea and sky with lustrous green forest and towering granite outcrops, has aroused wonder and admiration in all visitors. Throughout the nineteenth century, before and after the advent of photography, it was visually portrayed more often than almost any other city in the world.  The images of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain, of Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, and of its carnival celebrations continue to circulate widely through traditional and new media.

Staging these great sporting events is obviously a great privilege and entails corresponding responsibilities for the host country and city.  Over the past decades the Olympic Games have increasingly become a great showcase for the host country to project a desired image to the world.  This has been done very successfully by many previous host cities.  Brazilians and cariocas (natives of Rio de Janeiro) are fully committed to maintaining this tradition and to ensuring these events are memorable.  We are fortunate to be receiving great support from previous host cities, especially London, as well as both the public and the Olympic organising committees.

It is no coincidence that we were awarded the events at a time when Brazil has gained increased visibility and prominence in the international arena.  These events represent unique opportunities to demonstrate to the world the social and economic progress that Brazil has achieved in the recent past.  These achievements derive from three central developments: the consolidation of democracy; overcoming macroeconomic volatility, with the stabilisation of the currency and the economy; and increased social inclusion along with the reduction of poverty, especially extreme poverty.

Responsible fiscal and monetary policies, a free floating exchange rate, and open and diversified international trade have led to net international reserves of US$350 billion (November 2011), US$70 billion in Foreign Direct Investment  in the last 12 months, and projected average GDP growth of 5 per cent per year over the next five years. According to the most recent IMF projections, this year Brazil will become the sixth largest economy in the world by Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Fifteen million jobs have been created since 2003 and almost 50 million Brazilians have been lifted into the middle class in the past 10 years, bringing new dynamism to the domestic market and contributing to the sustainable growth of the economy.

The expansion and improvement of our physical infrastructure is a priority and President Dilma is fully committed to this agenda. Given the rapid pace of GDP growth and improved income distribution, infrastructure is a bottleneck that Brazil needs to tackle. Hosting these major sporting events gives added impetus to the implementation of infrastructure projects, while also helping to attract new investment and trade to Rio de Janeiro and to the country as a whole.

The World Cup and the Olympic and Paralympic Games will have a significant economic impact on Brazil. In the former, matches will be hosted by 12 cities in different parts of the country, providing an excellent incentive to regional social and economic development. A recent study by the Ministry of Sports forecasted that the World Cup in the longer term could generate more than US$100 billion in economic activity for Brazil and 700,000 direct and indirect jobs. High-priority infrastructure projects include stadiums, airports, ports and urban transportation, which together constitute total investment of around US$15 billion from the government side.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games have to assure sustainability and an enduring legacy. That includes the full use of the sporting venues built for the Pan American Games in 2007. Rio 2016 will be based in 32 sports venues: 47 per cent already exist; 28 per cent will be new and permanently available for use after the Games; and 25 per cent temporary. The new permanent venues will be erected around the already existing ones. Among the new sports venues, it is worth mentioning the Olympic Training Centre and the X Park, both of which will be exceptional assets for the city. The Olympic Park will create a successful legacy in a regenerated district, with new homes, jobs, and places for leisure activities. It is also to become a global centre of sporting excellence.

The 2016 Games budget is estimated to be US$14.4 billion, with US$2.8 billion from the Organising Committee and US$11.6 billion of public and private resources. The estimated boost to the Brazilian economy is of US$51 billion from 2009 to 2027. This means that for each dollar invested in the Games, the private sector will invest US$3.26 in the supply chain. The estimated impact on Brazil’s GDP is US$11 billion during 2009-16 and US$13.5 billion during 2017-27. It will result in 120,000 people being  employed directly and indirectly per year between 2009 and 2016, and 130,000 people per year between 2017 and 2027.

As for investment opportunities in Rio 2016, one can highlight project design; urban, tourism and sports infrastructure; provision of goods and services (technology, public and private security, media, logistics and tourism), and sports materials for arenas and for the Olympic and Paralympic delegations.  British firms have been very active and have already won several bids, including the master plan for the Olympic Park.

The Rio de Janeiro Port Zone is a good example of the capacity of major sporting events to act as a catalyst for urban transformation, and as guarantors of an enduring legacy. The three levels of government (federal, state and municipal) and all relevant private actors have launched the Port Zone recovery project, benefiting a beautiful but degraded area of the city.

Brazil is an open and receptive country.  Ours is more of a culture of persuasion and seduction than conflict and imposition.  Rio 2016 will be an opportunity to project this to the world, as well as an opportunity to celebrate our cultural and ethnic diversity, sound and modern economy,  and vibrant (and quite often very loud) democracy.


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