By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – To dissipate concerns about security the Zika virus and the readiness of Olympic venues during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic and Paralympic Games, Brazil’s interim President, Michel Temer, published an open letter in the Rio 2016 webpage welcoming tourists to the city and the country.
“Brazil awaits you with open arms. The country has put together a solid security program of 85,000 federal, state and municipal government personnel to ensure that sporting events take place in an atmosphere of absolute peace and tranquility,” said the President.
According to President Temer the country is ready to go, with all sports facilities ready and waiting for the more than 17,000 athletes expected to participate in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
As for security concerns, the President noted that Brazil has hosted world events, such as the World Cup, the Pan-American Games, the World Military Games, the World Youth Day and the Confederations Cup, all with success.
According to Defense Minister Raul Jungmann more than 21,000 armed forces personnel, including army, navy, air force and marine officials will be at hand, patrolling the streets around Olympic venues, including Copacabana Beach where volleyball and some swimming competitions are scheduled to be held.
In regards to the Zika virus epidemic, reported in Brazil at the beginning of the year, the President reassured visitors that due to the winter season in the Southern Hemisphere during August, “the risk of a Zika infection during the Games is practically non-existent’. Temer noted that there has been a steep decline in Zika infection cases reported in Rio and around Brazil in the last few weeks.
“Brazil is ready to receive all of the visitors who will be enjoying the pleasure of watching the world’s elite international sports athletes compete, and, surely, we will have a great deal to show the five billion viewers from around the world who will be watching the Games as well,” concluded Temer.