2016 Rio Olympics

The Olympics in Rio are Fast Approaching

Olympic-Games-closing-ceremony-and-handover-to-Rio-2016Although the 2016 Olympics in Rio is not currently on our daily news radar, 2016 is fast approaching and the Brazilian people are working extra hard to prepare for it. Added pressure reigns down on this nation since this is the first time that a South American country and the first time that a Portuguese-speaking nation has hosted the Olympic Games – all eyes are looking to this nation with great anticipation. Unfortunately earlier this year, several complaints had been lodged against the leaders of the Rio 2016 Local Organizing Committee to a point where the International Olympic Committee was concerned that they might have to step in to assist in their efforts to ensure that deadlines could be met.
For any nation to prepare for an Olympic Games is a herculean task especially when the Brazilian people, a predominantly poor people, must support its government who is spending billions of dollars towards an event which will last for less than one month – the Olympics will be held August 5th to August 21st, 2016. The hope of the Brazilian government and its people is that the funds spent on the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will inject billions of dollars back in to their economy just as the World Cup of 2014 had done. It has been reported that the World Cup added $4.4 billion to Rio’s economy. So the members of Rio’s Local 2016 Olympic VenueOrganizing Committee together with the city, state and federal governments are all working in tandem to ensure a memorable but profitable celebration to come for its people and for all attendees.
In keeping with the goal of the Brazilian government and its people, the Olympic Park is bustling with activities in preparation of the big event. The Park is made up of four competition zones. They are as follows:
1. Barra da Tijuca, which is centrally located. This will be the home of the Olympic Village.
2. The Deodoro Sports Complex which was started on July 3, 2014. It is the second largest Olympic zone which will include a few venues previously used in the Pan American Games of 2007. This Sports Complex, which will host several Olympic events, will house among others, the equestrian arena, the Bike park and the Canoe Slalom. The Deodoro facilities are currently on schedule and well under way to being completed before the 2016 deadline date.
3. The Copacabana Zone will naturally be the site for the water and beach events such as sailing, canoeing, beach volleyball and others. In fact for one week this past August, sailors from around the world gathered on Guanabara Bay for the first test event to be held in that Zone. It was considered a grand success although there were many complaints about the conditions of the water – several people complained about the high water pollution levels and as a result, the event became a situation where dodging unseen objects below the surface of the water was the ‘order of each day.’
4. The Maracanã Zone where the majority of the events will be held includes two stadiums, the Maracanã Stadium (also known as Engenhão) where the opening and the closing ceremonies are to be held and the João Havelange Olympic Stadium, where track and field events will be held. Of all the four zones, this zone is more ready than all of the others because the two main complexes are already in place, although they do need some repairs before their final opening.
Of course if travel tips to Brazil are to be of benefit to any visitor, one would need to know not only about the Brazilian food, and the Brazilian people, but also about transportation, and how to get to and from the facilities. Now that more Brazilian people have greater access to wealth and education, they are buying more cars and congestion has become a major problem in many Brazilian cities. The Rio government together with private investment intend to spend over $8.5 billion to upgrade its urban transportation system in order to increase the use of public transportation by 300%. Major improvements will be made to the metro system which being extended about 16 km and to the bus-lines so that they can move people around that city more quickly. Much improvement had been made to the infra-structure in preparation of the World Cup and now efforts continue in earnest as the deadline for the 2016 Olympics in Rio is less than 2 years away. I encourage you to read my articles on each of the referenced topics because they will give you many travel tips on how to ensure that you experience an enjoyable yet safe trip to Brazil and will also give you the Do’s and Don’ts of travelling in and out of that beautiful country.
Come August 2016, over 10,000 athletes from around the world are expected to participate in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Therefore in order to support its efforts, the Brazilian Organizing Committee is in search of thousands of volunteers to make their 2016 Olympics a roaring success. Whether you serve in a food pavilion, or you become a part of the security team, whether you work online, if you serve as a translator or on the front lines meeting and greeting the attendees, Rio’s Local Organizing Committee will need over 70,000 volunteers to make this event happen. So if you are interested in helping, you must be 18 years of age or old and you must be available for at least 10 days during the events. If you meet these criteria (and there may be others), you can apply to be a volunteer at: http://www.rio2016.com/volunteers/. I am certain they will need all of the help that they can get and therefore they will welcome you with open arms.

How did Brazil handle the World Cup 2014?

I am certain that many of us, now that we have taken the time to reflect on World Cup 2014, realise that Brazil really did accomplished a tremendous feat, considering the many challenges that they faced.  With budget shortages, numerous protests by members of various local communities, missed deadlines and the like, they ‘pulled it off.’  Bottom line, we all have to admit, it could have been much worse.  It truly was the will of the Brazilian people that got them through.  I am certain that Brazil will need much more assistance to have a successful Olympics 2016.  However, I am encouraged that the Olympic Committee is overseeing their progress and hopefully they will put in place ALL of the necessary support to ensure that this struggling but flavourful nation will present to the world an exciting, colourful and memorable event as World Cup 2014.  CNN’s Shasta Darlington took time to review their successes and their failures.

Will Rio be Ready for Olympics 2016? – Part l

England's Claudia Fragipane, who has won four gold medals in Glasgow England’s Claudia Fragapane, who has won four gold medals in  Glasgow,during a beam routine at the Commonwealth Games. Photograph: Alastair Grant/AP

After so much drama surrounding the 2014 World Cup, with incomplete soccer stadiums, numerous protests, over-run budgets etc., the question that has rolled off many a tongue, is: ‘Will Brazil be ready for the Olympics in 2016?” Even officers of the International Olympic Committee such as the President of the IOC said in April 2014, that their preparations were the worst that he has seen.

I often recall the statement that so many Brazilians live by, ‘Not to worry, it will get done.’  But as the various athletes, in particular, those participating in boating events, practice for their events, the enormity of the task is so very real. They are already complaining that the water is filthy and it is like a sewer.

I also recall many a day when the Pinheiros River that runs through the South of the city of Sao Paulo, emitted such thick chemical fumes, that my eyes watered as I waited on the platform in Pinheiros, for the train to come.  So just cleaning up the many rivers that are filled with sludge, waste and filth will be extemely costly and could be a ‘deal-breaker’ for the athletes as well as for Rio.

Noone expects that any country should go bankrupt just to entertain the world, but in this case, some of the basic infrastructure is not there and that alone can ‘break any bank.’  Let’s keep watching and I will continue to update you on the latest news as time draws nearer to opening ceremony.

The People

Being born and raised in a beautiful country like Bermuda where tourism is a natural part of our P1030623everyday lives, I am very much aware of the need to be courteous and helpful to our visitors; they are our income. (As an aside, I must inform you that Tourism is NOT Bermuda’s primary source of income – International Banking and Reinsurance are our primary industries).  I have found that the occasional smile, “hello” or a conversation in passing or while shopping, does not qualify one to be an ambassador of any country. However I can say first-hand, that Brazilians are a very friendly people. They are ‘huggers’ by nature and they will even kiss a stranger soon after meeting them. They love their families and they are very protective of each member. One of their most favorite past-times is “EATING” – yes, food plays a big part in their social interactions.

What surprised me most was when I was told by a female manager at a local water company, that Brazil is built on a ‘class system.’ Blacks or olive skinned people are automatically assumed to be in Class C or D. No matter one’s education, it is assumed that most Blacks are poor and uneducated. It was even more surprising that being Black and able to speak and teach English makes things a little ‘murky,’ to say the least. What class do you put someone like me in? Class B, C or D? Wow, so 1960’s…

I also noted that there is a huge “Gay” population there – not surprising considering their natural instinct towards intimacy. I have nothing against showing public affection, but I have observed that Brazilians often cross the line. What do I mean by that? Displays of public affection are everywhere, in the subways, on the stairs to the subway, on the bus, on the street corner, in the Mall… It took me months to get used to it, often feeling, whispering or mumbling under my breath, “get a room people!” Personally, I feel it takes the passion out of love-making, but again, that’s only my personal opinion.
While there, I also discovered that Brazilians are generally a very possessive and a ‘jealous’ people. I witnessed this for myself on several occasions. In fact, all Brazilians I spoke with, agreed with my observation. They are a religious people as well. They were mostly Catholic (over 80%) in the past. However those numbers have dropped to less than 50% today.

The best and most precious time was when I was adopted by a final.friendsfinal.friends2Brazilian family (below). They were there for me on my birthday, and when I needed someone to talk to (in English that is). They became my family away from home. I cannot thank them enough although they must forgive me for not being in regular contact with them since leaving Brazil. My thoughts are with them  constantly and I miss them dearly.

Finally, I was astonished when one white, female Brazilian scorned against her people for disregarding their African heritage. Actually I found this subject to be taboo. They will talk about practically anything, but seldom if ever will they discuss questions concerning their dark skin and where it actually came from. Such a shame because heritage is ours to be valued.