By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Friday, September 2nd, Rio de Janeiro city and Paralympic officials unveiled a new sculpture of the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games’ symbol, the three Agitos, at Copacabana beach. The new work of art replaces the sculpture of the iconic Olympic rings, which was a crowd favorite and adorned the sands of the famous beach, in front of the Copacabana Palace Hotel, for the entire 2016 Rio Olympics.
Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), expects the Paralympics Games sculpture, similar to the Olympic rings sculpture, to be a must-stop site for visitors during the Paralympics.
“I am sure that many people will come here to take photos and selfies and those photos will populate social media channels,” said an excited Craven at Friday’s unveiling.
The three Agitos, three red, blue, and green asymmetrical crescent shapes meant to represent movement, has been the symbol of the Paralympic Games since 2003.
Artists Elisa Brasil and Tejota Bastos designed the Copacabana Agitos sculpture with a unique interactive component: each of the three crescent shapes has a different texture and smell. The red shape has the smell of the Brazilian berry guarana, the blue shape smells of fabric softener, and the green of mint.
“The different textures and smells make the Agitos inclusive,” said Craven. “[A]nd the use of recycled material makes the beach cleaner for these beautiful people.”
Brasil and Bastos made the four-meter tall and three-meter wide sculpture entirely of recycled materials, which were collected by students from Rio’s municipal schools. Some of the recycled materials came from the very beach where the sculpture now stands. “We believe that this sculpture fulfills its role in sending the message we want for the world,” said Brasil.
Joaquim Monteiro, head of Empresa Olímpica Municipal (Municipal Olympic Company), added, “Once again we are combining art, education, and sustainability to relay the message that we need to pay attention to the amount of waste we produce and the destination we give it.”
Also invited to Friday’s unveiling were students from Instituto Benjamin Constant located in the quaint Zona Sul (South Zone) neighborhood of Urca. The institute, part of Brazil’s Ministry of Education, specializes in providing education for visually impaired students.
“When thinking of Rio, many think of Corcovado, Sugarloaf and the beautiful people on Copacabana beach. Here we have some of those beautiful people,” said Craven about the institute’s students, who, along with experiencing the different textures and aromas of the sculpture, also had the chance to meet the Paralympic mascot, Tom.
With the Paralympic Games rapidly approaching, Craven said he could already feel the excitement building in the city. “I landed here on Wednesday (August 31st) and I already feel a great energy ahead of the opening ceremony next Wednesday (September 7th). This energy has been reflected in growing ticket sales which now stand at 1.4 million tickets sold.”
The 2016 Rio Paralympic Games features over 4,300 para-athletes from 160 countries competing in 23 sports competitions, including track and field, swimming, five-a-side and seven-a-side football, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby. The Games kick off with the opening ceremony at Maracanã Stadium on Wednesday, September 7th.