Athens, April 28 (IANS) The city of Rio de Janeiro is “ready to deliver history” when Brazil becomes the first South American country to host the Olympic Games in August, Rio 2016 president Carlos Nuzman has said.
Nuzman made the declaration in a speech to mark the handing over of the Olympic flame from Greece to Brazil at the Panathenaic Stadium here on Wednesday, which hosted the first Olympics of the modern era in 1896, reports Xinhua.
“Here we are, two countries working together,” Nuzman said. “Two peoples writing history in this historic place. That is the soul of the Olympic movement. Building bridges across the world. Inspiring generations to come with examples of grit and glory that cannot be seen in any other human endeavour. Leaving a message of friendship, hope and peace, as we move ahead.”
He added: “Rio is ready to deliver history. We are ready because we were never alone. Without the help of the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, his team of IOC directors and the IOC staff we would be moving without direction. The guidance of the coordination commission, under the leadership of the chair and Olympic champion Nawal El Moutawakel gave us the power to push ahead.”
Brazil’s Olympic preparations have been set amid a backdrop of political and economic turbulence. President Dilma Rousseff is facing an impeachment process for allegedly manipulating government accounts while a massive corruption scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras has tipped the economy into its worst recession in decades.
Despite the difficulties, Nuzman said Rio was on track to stage a successful Olympic Games.
“We knew all the way that the Brazilian government and the Brazilian people were behind us,” he said. “We told you in Olympia that the more we come to Greece, the more we feel at home. Home for us is the place where we meet friends.
“Allow me, ladies and gentlemen, to pause here. Not for clean air, water or energy. That we have plenty of in our beloved Brazil. We want to thank those who made this journey possible.”
The torch will arrive in Brazil on May 3, passing through 300 cities before ending its journey at the Maracana stadium on August 5.
But first it will travel to Switzerland, briefly stopping at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva.
“Brazil is waiting for the Olympic flame with excitement and passion,” Nuzman said. “We’ll be there soon. And when we arrive, we will deliver the promise to take the Olympic experience to all the corners of a country that is beautiful by nature.”
The Rio Games chief thanked construction workers, volunteers, Rio 2016 organising committee’s staff and civil servants from the local, state and federal governments.
And he said Rio would represent all of the 450 million-plus people in South America during the Games.
“That decision in Copenhagen (to award Rio the Games in 2009) opened the door to new regions of the world,” Nuzman said.
“It will also send a powerful message to the world. The Olympic Games belong to all peoples, to all continents, to all mankind. We are keeping the promise to give millions of people the chance to be part of history.”