By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Rio de Janeiro’s Tom Jobim International Airport has been prepared to welcome up to three heads of states every twenty minutes, during the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, but according to local media not many dignitaries are confirming their presence.
According to daily Folha de S. Paulo, the Games’ opening ceremony is not likely to not be attended by Presidents of the U.S. (Barack Obama), Russia (Vladimir Putin), Spain (Mariano Rajoy) or German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Olympic officials, however, estimate that up to one hundred heads of states will be in Rio to watch some of the competitions, which begin after the August 5th ceremony.
According to Brazilian Air Force Commander Medeiros, of the Air Navigation Monitoring Center (CGNA), thirty heads of states already confirmed their presence at the Games. Others, according to the official, will only confirm attendance at the last minute, due to security reasons.
Local media reports that leaders are not only concerned about security but also uncomfortable with the political situation in Brazil, not wanting to send out signals supporting the country’s interim government.
Rio’s international airport will cordon off ten percent of its area to only receive these dignitaries, as well as the foreign Olympic federations and committees. The area will be patrolled by military officials and police dogs. The military is also expected to lead the motorcades which will take the heads of states from the airport to their respective hotels.
Restrictions of Rio’s air space will start next week, on July 24th, when the Olympic Village is scheduled to be inaugurated and extend to August 22nd, the day after the end of the Olympics. The restrictions will also be enforced between September 7th and September 19th, for the Paralympic Games.
During those times no training, education and tourism flights, as well as parachutes, para-gliders, balloons, experimental aircraft, hang-gliding, agricultural spraying, model airplanes and remotely piloted aircrafts will be allowed in Rio’s airspace without previous authorization.