By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With a little over a month to go before the most watched sports event in the world begins in Rio de Janeiro, an important milestone was reached on Sunday, June 26th as Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes unveiled the final sports arena in Olympic Park, the Velodrome. The modern five thousand seat indoor cycling venue will stage all the Olympic and Paralympic track cycling competitions.
The Velodrome is located in Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca, the largest site of the 2016 Games. In addition to the cycling venue, Olympic Park includes three Carioca Arenas, the Main Press Centre, International Broadcast Centre, the Futuro Arena, the Aquatic Stadium, and the Tennis Center.
All but the Velodrome had been tested and opened leading up to Sunday, as the cycling venue was often besieged by delays that forced the cancellation of two cycling test events.
Mayor Eduardo Paes and Rio2016 officials were on hand at the venue’s inauguration on Sunday, which also included some thirty cyclists participating in a test run of the track.
“Today is a moment of great joy because it is the last arena to be delivered by the city,” said Mayor Paes. “When we deliver this last key, the message is that we are doing the cheapest Olympics in history, with private resources,” the Mayor added, “The Olympics mean, in the case of Rio de Janeiro, a fantastic opportunity for transformation for the city.”
The Velodrome instantly becomes the most modern cycling venue in Brazil. The track is made of Siberian pine imported from Germany, which besides being weather, heat and moisture resistant, is also considered a fast track allowing riders to reach higher speeds.
Following the test event, Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of Rio2016, said happily, “To receive the key of the last sports arena is able to say today that the facilities are ready for the big players of the Games, the athletes.”
Following the 2016 Games, officials plan to convert the Velodrome to a multi-use sports training facility, which, in addition to cycling, will include taekwondo, fencing, boxing, and weightlifting.
The first Olympic cycling event at the Velodrome will take place on August 11th a few days after the opening ceremony on August 5th.