Seven years ago, we received the big news: Brazil will host the Olympic Games in 2016! My God, that’s huge, we thought! Although we didn’t grasp the exact concept of what it would be like to host an International event such as the Olympics, we were still excited. The years passed and finally the big event arrived. Rio de Janeiro was at the center of the world stage. Billions of eyes were staring at us. Everybody was anxious to see how it would turn out, especially since it was the first Games hosted in South America. Everybody had an opinion about the Games and about Rio de Janeiro. But, what about our impressions? How were the Games through Brazilians’ eyes? Here are our impressions about this long journey.
Rio is a marvelous city, the same city that was once named the “Happiest City in the World” by Forbes Magazine. It was with this happiness that we received approximately 10,000 athletes and countless visitors. Rio de Janeiro is the largest international tourist destination in the Southern Hemisphere, but no experience was as emotionally intense as this. We know much of Rio’s beauty comes from our mountains, seas and especially warm people. But it wasn’t enough to host such an event, Rio needed to evolve, to maximize its already beautiful combination of metropolis and nature. We needed more! We needed to improve our infrastructure, urban mobility, technology, security, and access to culture and wellness spaces. At this point, it is necessary to paraphrase our national anthem:
“…A giant by thine own nature,
thou art a beautiful, strong and intrepid colossus,
and your future mirrors this greatness…”
Yes! After seven years of hard work, the future arrived and we managed to achieve that greatness. More than just the experience we provided to the world, the 2016 Olympic Games left a structural legacy! This was another step that Brazil needed to take to continue its journey towards becoming a better country. Cariocas (those born in Rio) are proud to see our landscapes even more beautiful, having won the gift that was the creation of Porto Maravilha (Marvelous Port – picture below), having monuments worthy of a first world country, and to see the evolution of architecture and urbanism that equals the beauty of our seas and mountains. However, we believe that our greatest pride is looking at what we have built, seeing what we have accomplished and knowing that we are on the right track.
During the last 15 days we embodied the celebration of all this and did what our people do best - party! The city became even more colorful and we shared with our visitors a unique joy. Our parks, bars, museums, and stadiums were so full that people could not enter places. But for us this is not a problem, any place is a good place to celebrate, so our streets were overtaken by parties and energy. Days were marked by fireworks and shouts of joy in following our teams. Each point won or lost reached Brazilians’ heart. We cheered as if there was no tomorrow, shouted in favor to encourage our athletes, and against our opponents because no one is made of steel (laughs)! We have joined our voices in one unique choir to show the world our strength! It is valid to say that the diversity of cultures and countries only made it more exciting and fun. Thanks to the Games,Rio de Janeiro became the postcard of the world.
The Olympic Games reaffirmed that Brazilians are an unmatched people! As reflected in the opening ceremony, our story is an example of our determination and capacity for reinvention. The "gambiarra" (improvisation) and the "jeitinho brasileiro" (Brazilian way) assumed their real meaning through the Games: with little we can do so much! One of our most popular songs says it best: "eu sou brasileiro com muito orgulho, com muit oamor" (I’m Brazilian with much pride, with much love). We are proud of our athletes and the entire Brazilian nation that made the Olympic Games more than a competition, but an opportunity to exalt our love for Brazil!!
Now, let the Paralympics begin!