NOCs Visit Rio 2016 Venues

At the beginning of May 2013, 19 representatives from 10 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) visited the sport venues in three of the four Rio de Janeiro zones that will host competitions during the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The visits were part of the ‘Dia Aberto’ (Open Day) event for the NOCs.

The group first visited the National Equestrian Centre, which will host the Deodoro Arena, the Modern Pentathlon Park and the National Shooting Centre, all of which are located in Deodoro. The group also visited Maracanã and Maracanãzinho Stadia before lunch. In the afternoon, the group visited the Sambódromo, Marina da Glória and Copacabana Beach, with a final stop at Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.

Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Village and NOC/NPC Relations and Services director Mario Cilenti organised the meeting. Before the visits, the group attended several lectures at the Organising Committee in Cidade Nova neighbourhood.

“The lectures focused on the main themes of the Games, such as transportation, accommodation, Olympic Village services, sports and sport venues,” said Cilenti, who has been working in the organisation of the Olympic Games since Sydney 2000. “Except for one, all visitors are sport professionals. This is our focus: to make presentations with technical information instead of a political presentation.”

Daishun Wei, secretariat director of the Chinese Olympic Committee, affirmed that the NOC Open Day was very useful. “This was an excellent initiative of the Organising Committee. Serious and professional work. I am sure you will stage excellent Games,” Wei said; he was delighted with Barra Olympic Park.

“More than half of the sport disciplines will be concentrated in Barra, which is very good,” he considered. Wei also affirmed that, despite winning dozens of medals in individual sport disciplines, the Chinese rarely win in collective sport disciplines. However, he believes this might change in 2016: “We are improving our collective sport performance, and will do our best to achieve good results here in Rio.”

Unlike China, Botswana won only one medal in the whole history of the Olympic Games. The medal was won in London 2012, when Nijel Amos finished second in the 800 metres. Tuelo Serufho, general secretary of the Botswana Olympic Committee, also participated in the NOC Open Day, and said that his country should strongly improve its position in the medal table in 2016.

“We only had four athletes competing at London 2012. After the first victory, we became more ambitious. In Rio, we plan to bring around 20 athletes and win five medals,” Serufho said. Athletics, Boxing, Football and Volleyball are the country’s most popular sports, but according to him, they have better chances to win in the two individual sports.

Like China’s representative, the Botswana athlete only made compliments to the Organising Committee, the city and the Olympic venues. “I hesitated a few times to come to Rio on holidays, and now I regret it. The city is really beautiful. The beaches are breathtaking,” he said, before talking about the Games project.

“I am impressed by the progress in the organisation. The biggest advantage of having the competition held here in Rio is the short distances among the venues; only two or three sport venues are located in other areas,” he commented.

This has been the first visit to Rio de Janeiro for all 19 foreign professionals. Representatives of five European countries (Germany, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia and France), two Asian countries (China and Qatar), two African countries (Botswana and Namibia), in addition to the Brazilian Olympic Committee, took part in this second NOC Open Day. The first one happened in December 2012, and the third will be held between 5-6 November 2013. Other two similar events are scheduled for 2014.

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