We are still one year away from the leading international sporting event, but Brazil's heart is already beating faster.
The Brazilian generous heart leaps up when confronted with two of its passions: welcoming people from all over the world and competing with enthusiasm and fair play in a superb sport performance. We have seen it happening during the FIFA World Cup. It will be like that again, beginning on August 5, 2016, when we will light with the Olympic flame our passion for sport and will hoist the flag bearing the five interlocking rings at our magnificent Maracanã stadium.
It is not by chance that Brazil was given the honor of being the first South American country to host the Olympic Games. Brazil is worldwide known for its impressive and diversified landscape. We are also a country with a history of tolerance and respect for diversity which has become an international symbol of sociability. Indeed, we have welcomed different peoples and cultures with hospitality and happiness. Our people – our workers, businesspeople, students, scientists and artists – have managed to build one of the most open nations in the world, thanks to their creative capacity, friendliness and solidarity. We have built a vigorous culture of peace and work. That set of values guides our hard work to turn these coming Olympics into the best ever world sports festivity. We have achieved it during the FIFA World Cup and we have everything it takes to repeat it at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
This is a major challenge which we are overcoming day after day, hour after hour, long before the competitions actually start. The preparation process for the games began with investment in the most important asset of all: our athletes. It went on with massive investments in sport infrastructure and will reach its peak with the great ongoing urban restructuring of Rio de Janeiro. These investments in people and infrastructure will bring far reaching results in future years, beyond the time frame of the Olympic Games. We believe that education and sport are our best allies to ensure social inclusion and integration. Through them we stimulate young people to fight for their goals, to experience the joy of breaking limits, to learn teamwork and respect for their competitors. Sport inspires in us a culture of cooperation, of honoring, ethic and hard work as means to reach our goals and celebrate our achievements.
We will also have the monumental legacy of urban modernization of Rio de Janeiro. A wide range of infrastructure works are under way: a new metro line, a tramway connecting the whole of downtown Rio and express lanes for buses which will interconnect all competition venues. The aim of much of this investment is to improve public transportation and commuting for people during and after the games, in particular people who live in the most remote quarters and need public transportation of high quality.
Urban transformation is not all. The Rio Harbour area, for example, will become a new leisure and culture quarter for local population and for thousands of tourists which we receive each year. In the future, "Porto Maravilha" will house new office and residential buildings.
The Rio 2016 Olympic Games has attracted massive investments from the Brazilian private sector – and not only for sponsoring or for building and modernizing the new hotel network. For example, the Barra Olympic Park was built to a great extent with private investment, including works on local infrastructure. The Olympic Village, that will host athletes from all over the world, is also being constructed by the private sector, which has begun to sell these apartments.
In total, there are 12 training centers and 261 sport initiation centers, in addition to the 46 official athletics tracks. The investment on the sport legacy in Rio and in the country sums up to 1.1 billion euros.
We are also providing for the cost-efficiency as well as the sustainability of the facilities. One example is Future Arena, the venue of the handball competitions at the Olympic Park. The Arena is made with temporary modules, which will be dismantled after the Games and converted into four schools.
An event with such complexity also requires constant attention to details. Rio`s infrastructure and Olympic projects are already being tested with the first events taking place throughout the city. By early 2016, we will have held competitions in 40 sports modalities.
Brazil is fully prepared for the upcoming Games. In cooperation with the event`s organizers, we will proudly show the world the recent accomplishments of a strong and well-functioning democracy which is committed to reducing social inequalities through economic development and investment. This is the collective effort of an entire country. Our energy to overcome challenges will be demonstrated to all the 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes, the thousands of spectators and the billions of viewers.
Athletes and tourists will be warmly welcomed by the Brazilian society, as it happened in the 2014 World Cup, when the country charmed the world with its festive atmosphere and overall safety and efficiency. At that time, all those watching our festivities on TV certainly wanted to be here in Brazil. In 2016, do not just long to be in Brazil – come enjoy all the good that the Olympic Games can give you during this one-time event – and all that a country like Brazil can offer you at any time: peace, love, joy, and lots of happiness!
We are waiting for you with open arms and hearts.
Dilma Rousseff is the 36th and current President of Brazil.
Editor: S. Tambur