By Nelson Belen, Contributing Writer
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With the 2016 Olympics rapidly approaching, city officials announced on Wednesday, June 26th, a series of measures to be instituted during the Games such as traffic bans, road closures, exclusive Olympic traffic lanes, and three citywide holidays on August 5th, 18th, and 22nd.
With 500,000 tourists and more than ten thousand athletes from 206 countries about to join Rio’s six million residents, the measures, which will be in effect for the Olympics, from August 5th to 21st, and Paralympics, from September 7th to 18th, are designed to help mobility and safety during the Games.
The first holiday will be on August 5th, the date of the Opening Ceremony at Maracanã Stadium. The second holiday will be on August 18th, when the Olympic triathlon event will be taking place on the streets of Copacabana.
The final holiday will be on August 22nd, the day after the closing ceremony and a day when government officials expect a large majority of visitors to be heading to the airport to return home.
The decree also provides for the closing of Quinta da Boa Vista park, in São Cristóvão, for four days, on August 5th and 21st, and September 7th and 9th, coinciding with the respective opening and closing ceremonies of both the Olympics and Paralympics.
In addition, there will be a ban on trucks and cargo vehicles on certain roads at specific times throughout the city. To further help the flow of traffic during the Games, the decree calls for the creation of a road network of special Olympic traffic lanes during the Olympic and Paralympic period.
These lanes will be reserved exclusively for vehicles accredited by Rio 2016. Non-accredited vehicles entering these lanes will be subject to a R$1,500 fine.
Copacabana resident Marcelo de Souza is hopeful for the measures, “As everyone knows, traffic in Rio is bad enough on a normal day, I can’t imagine what will be like with all the tourists.” He added, “At least, with the new holidays and a ban of trucks, I really hope there will be much less people driving.”
The vehicle prohibitions will not apply to emergency and rescue vehicles as well as other vehicles providing essential public utility services, such as gas or fuel.