By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With only 500 days to go until the 2016 Olympic Summer Games, Rio de Janeiro enters the final preparation stage in order to get ready for the world’s biggest sporting event both in terms of facilities and infrastructure and athletic preparedness. According to the Local Organizing Committee deadlines, dates and budget will all be met, but there is not much room for issues to arise.
“Rio is getting ready for the party and for the Games. We will deliver everything we promised, but we are at a stage where we need to be very attentive. There are only 500 days left and if make a mistake, we will not have time to fix it,” the Organizing Commitee’s director of communication Mário Andrada told the press.
According to Andrada, all sporting facilities are more than thirty percent ready and the majority of them are over fifty percent built. However, the equestrian center, golf course and the velodrome singled out by the COI during their visit in February, are not among Andrada’s concerns.
“The delays they cited concern the test events and not to the Games. The [issues at the] equestrian center are already resolved and we will have the test event on the scheduled date. The velodrome, even though a little late, will not impact the test event. We are counting on it,” he explained.
Yet, the cleaning of Guanabara Bay in time for the sailing and windsurfing competitions remains one of the worries. “It is our biggest focus of attention. We need to hurry,” Andrada admitted.
Also in the final stage of preparations 500 days before the Olympic Games are Brazil’s athletes. According to the Brazilian Olympic Committee the country will try to reach at least 27 medals during their home games, ten more than in London.
“We have entered the final stages of preparation, the definition of athletes and teams that will represent us at Rio 2016,” Carlos Arthur Nuzman, the COB’s president stated.
Brazil has already guaranteed the participation of 297 athletes, a record number for the country, but they are aiming at a delegation size of 450 sportsmen and women by 2016. For that, the many classification tournaments taking place throughout 2015 will prove to be vital.
“Brazil is already qualified or on the way of qualifying in the most sports, but the definition of [which] athletes [will participate] is still open. This year will be very important for the formation of the delegations,” Nuzman explained.
The preparation for the Brazilian Olympic teams has already begun in 2009 with the support of all the athletes, new equipment and facilities and the latest training methods. Results already showed in 2013, when Brazil won 27 medals in world championships, the best post-Olympic year result in the country’s history.
In order to prepare among others for the Pan-American Games in Toronto, Canada in July 2015, the Brazilian Olympic Committee has agreed to have up to 260 athletes train and live at the Army’s Physical Education Center in Rio.