International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach today officially invited the world’s athletes to take part in South America’s first ever Olympic Games. It marks exactly one year to go until the opening of the Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro 2016.
At the celebrations President Bach symbolically handed invitations to the representatives of the National Olympic Committees of Greece, Russia, the Republic of Korea, Japan, China, and Brazil. The NOCs represent the country where the Olympic Games originated, the country of the previous host city, and the countries of the current Games host cities.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Bach said: “It seems only yesterday that the IOC chose the warm, vibrant city of Rio de Janeiro to be the first South American host for the Olympic Games. There is no better place to achieve that milestone for Brazil and for South America. Billions of people from around the world will see and marvel at the aquarela do Brasil — the spectacular beauty of the land and sea. They will be enchanted by the warmth of the Brazilian people; the vibrant and diverse culture. This will be Brazil’s moment. These will be Brazil’s Olympic Games, right here in the cidade maravilhosa.”
He continued, “The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will leave a legacy of new sporting venues for elite athletes and the general public. Deodoro and Barra Olympic Parks are prime examples of this. These Olympic Games will leave a legacy of new transport links that will benefit residents and visitors for generations to come. By 2016, the majority of Rio de Janeiro’s population will have access to high-capacity public transport. In just seven years, the numbers of people having access to good quality transport will have risen from just 16 percent in 2009 to 63 percent by the time those buses and metros are filled with Olympic fans heading for the Opening Ceremony. This will be the biggest urban redevelopment since the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992. The world will talk about a Rio de Janeiro before the Games and a much better Rio de Janeiro after the Games.”
The ceremony took place at Rio de Janeiro’s Cidades das Artes, and was attended by the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff; IOC Coordination Commission Chair, Nawal El Moutawakel; Brazilian Minister of Sport, George Hilton; Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes and the President of the Rio 2016 Organising Committee, Carlos Arthur Nuzman.
Rio 2016 President Carlos Arthur Nuzman commented, “I am delighted that friends of Brazil around the world will receive this invitation today. When they arrive here next year, they will find the city ready and an energy that cannot be matched anywhere else.”
Accepting the invitations from President Bach on behalf of the NOCs present were Hellenic Olympic Committee President Spyros Capralos, Russian Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov, Korean Olympic Committee Vice-President Jae-Youl Kim, Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda, Chinese Olympic Committee Vice-President Yang Shu’an, and Brazilian Olympic Committee President Carlos Arthur Nuzman.
In addition to the formal presentation of invitations to the NOCs, the ceremony also included a lively selection of songs about Rio sung by well-known local artists such as Roberta Sá, Diogo Nogueira, and Zeca Pagodinho. The show took the audience members on a musical journey into the heart of samba, showcasing an exclusive selection of hits and giving a special taste of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. The party-like ambiance gave those in the hall and watching around the world a taste of the atmosphere that can be expected in one year’s time at the Rio 2016 Games.
Rio de Janeiro will host the Games of the XXXI Olympiad from 5 to 21 August 2016.
Read the full text of IOC President Thomas Bach’s speech here.
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