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Rio De Janeiro Is Awarded 2016 Olympics


A jubilant crowd in Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, cheers after the IOC announces on October 2 that their city will host the 2016 Olympics.

A jubilant crowd in Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, cheers after the IOC announces on October 2 that their city will host the 2016 Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee has chosen the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Olympic Games, making it the first South American venue in Olympic history.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge announced that the Brazilian metropolis won a final round of IOC voting against Madrid after Chicago and then Tokyo had been eliminated in two secret ballots.

The announcement sent the Brazilian delegation at the Bella Center in Copenhagen into a frenzy of celebration, led by the country's president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

It was the fifth time Rio had competed to host the Games. After four defeats, this time the IOC evaluation commission said Rio was capable of hosting the world's premier sporting event.

In an emotional presentation to the committee before the final vote, President da Silva said Rio is ready to become an Olympic city. He said staging the Games there "would send a powerful message that the Olympics belong to all continents, all humanity."

Cleaning Up

Brazil is already set to host the 2014 football World Cup.

Together, the infrastructure cost to Brazil to mount both events is estimated at $14 billion. The Olympic budget alone is nearly $3 billion.

Da Silva made a compelling case for Rio de Janeiro while admitting that his country still has much to do to prepare. Rio is also notorious for violent crime in its shantytowns, or "favelas," driven largely by warring drug gangs.

He argued that the Brazilian government has worked hard to improve the social reality of Rio de Janeiro's poor slum dwellers, and said hosting the Games would help improve their situation by building a lasting legacy for future generations.

In addition to constructing or improving the 33 venues where the various sporting events will take place, there are major costs and logistics associated with transportation, accommodation, and security.

Beating traffic will be a top priority for Rio because the city has a limited metro system that does not link the city center and most of its hotels to the outskirts of Barra da Tijuca, where the venues are concentrated.

The city will spend $5 billion on rapid-transit bus lines to cut through traffic between Barra and the beachside neighborhoods of Copacabana and Ipanema. Organizers say athletes should get to events within 25 minutes, though fans may sit through up to an hour of traffic.

Rio's abundant lakes and vast coastline make it ideal for water sports, but heavy investments are needed to clean up years of pollution.

Tough Competition

Chicago's bid to win the Games got a huge boost from U.S. President Barack Obama, who took the unprecedented step of flying to Copenhagen with his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, to persuade the IOC.

Obama's appearance marked the first time a sitting U.S. president has lobbied the IOC directly on behalf of a U.S. bid. Obama told the Copenhagen gathering that the United States is "ready and eager" to host athletes and visitors from every corner of the globe.

"I urge you to choose Chicago. I urge you to choose America," Obama said. "And if you do, if we walk this path together, then I promise you this: The city of Chicago and the United States of America will make the world proud."

Japan's new prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, presented the case for Tokyo, and Spain's King Juan Carlos, together with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, campaigned for Madrid.

compiled from agency and media reports
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