By Dilma Rousseff (*) - We are still one year away from it, but Brazil's heart is already beating faster.The generous Brazilian 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 saw it happen 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 host the flag bearing the five interlocking rings at our magnificent Maracana stadium.
It is not by chance that Brazil was given the honour of being the first South American country to host the Olympic Games. Brazil is known worldwide 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 -- workers, businesspeople, students, scientists and artists -- 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 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 -- doubtlessly the most beautiful natural landscape for the Olympic Games since ancient Greece.
Throughout the last years we made huge public investments to ensure adequate material support to our athletes, their coaches and teams, with such programmes as the 'Athlete Scholarship' and the 'Brazilian Medals Plan'.
Our outstanding athletes have succeeded in continuously improving their performances with each competition. They are our great stars and source of inspiration. The results achieved by Brazil in the last Pan American Games are a concrete example of the drive of our athletes. These investments in people and infrastructure will bring far-reaching results in future years, beyond the timeframe of the Olympic Games.
Indeed, we are disseminating sport practice in our country among the young, with investments in facilities for a wide range of sport modalities throughout the country. This will be the greatest legacy which we will reap from the Rio 2016 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 co-operation, of honouring ethic and hard work as a means to reach our goals and celebrate our achievements. Combining it with the natural joy and self-esteem of our hospitable and welcoming people will produce the greatest legacy of the Rio 2016 Games.
We will also have the monumental legacy of urban modernisation of Rio de Janeiro, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and our national postcard. Two-thirds of the financial resources allocated to the Rio 2016 Games are being invested in urban infrastructure works for the city. A wide range of infrastructure works are underway, among them 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 the local population and for the thousands of tourists we receive each year.
In the future, Porto Maravilha will house new office and residential buildings. We are recuperating the brightness of the 'Marvellous City', which has enchanted the world ever since it was the capital of our country.
The Rio 2016 Olympic Games attracted investments from the Brazilian private sector -- and not only for sponsoring or for building and modernising 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. It is possible to state, therefore, that the Rio 2016 Games will receive one of the highest levels of private investment when compared to previous Olympic Games in the last 20 years.
The Deodoro Sport Complex, one of the competition venues, located in the middle of a deprived area and having the largest concentration of youngsters of Rio de Janeiro, will become a space for the local population to practice radical sports. It will also be a training stage for our best athletes.
The Barra Olympic Park will be the foundation for the future Olympic training centre, responsible for preparing the country's future high-level athletes. It will also enhance sport co-operation with other countries, especially with our neighbours from South America.
This effort is being stimulated by investments all over Brazil. In total, there are 12 training centres 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 amounts to US$1.2 billion.
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 competition at the Olympic Park. The arena is made with temporary modules, which will be dismantled after the Games and converted into four schools.
Ensuring the smooth operation of this great project has required constant attention and a joint effort by the local, state and federal government, as well as the Organizing Committee and the Olympic Public Authority. All parties will remain fully committed until the end of the Paralympics Games in September 2016.
An event with such complexity also requires constant attention to detail. 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 co-operation with the event's organisers, 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 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 and 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.
(*) President of the Federative Republic of Brazil
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I truly hope that the Olympics are a success for Brazil. Sport is a great way for different nations to connect. However, as is sometimes the case, it will be down to the wire for much of the infrastructure.Aug 06th, 2015 - 05:51 am 0
As for Rousseff's words, they are jarring (...we have welcomed different peoples and cultures with hospitality and happiness) when placed against the hatred espoused by Brasileiro... just goes to prove that he isn't a reflection of many Brazilians.
Only one issue, Rio de Janeiro -- doubtlessly the most beautiful natural landscape for the Olympic Games since ancient Greece
I am not a Sydney-sider but I'd have to say that this claim is easily disputed by the 2000 Olympics.
Does anyone believe Dilma anymore?Aug 06th, 2015 - 10:29 am 0
She has covered up a lot in this speech.
Interesting article here.
Looks like one man could make $1 billion.
And it ain't Brasileiro!
Not quite his socialist paradise.
Barra says he will sell off the Olympic Village to create a city for the 'elite'.
Not sure how that supports the PT philosophy?
@ SkipAug 06th, 2015 - 10:39 am 0
I do not hate anyone. Do you have ever heard of reciprocity? When an North-American maniac come on this forum and say that everything is bad in South America, I use reciprocity. When an English maniac comes here and says that he will play atomic bombs in our America, I use reciprocity.
No. I know Sidney and it really is a very beautiful city. But in terms of beauty the Rio de Janeiro is unsurpassed.