By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Saturday, June 10th, Rio’s Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca reopened once again for the opening ceremony of the 2017 Jogos da Baixada (Baixada Games).
Now in its twentieth year, the Jogos da Baixada is considered the largest sports event in Rio de Janeiro representing the region of Baixada Fluminense.
The games feature three thousand young athletes from fourteen municipalities in the region competing in various events such as football (soccer), handball, volleyball, track and field, basketball and swimming.
The competitions take place in various venues throughout the region until July 15th. The municipalities represented this year include Mangaratiba, Nova Iguaçu, Duque de Caxias, Belford Roxo, St. João de Meriti, Mesquita, Nilópolis, Burnley, Guapimirim, Itaguai, Paracambi, Japeri, Seropédica and Mage.
“We are taking the opportunity to reopen the Arena Carioca 1, the largest in Olympic Park, with a very important tournament, demonstrating that our arenas are in perfect condition to host this and many other competitions,” exclaimed Brazil’s Minister of Sports, Leonardo Picciani, at Saturday’s opening ceremony.
“We are very happy to see the arena being used for this kind of competition,” said Paulo Márcio, President of the Autoridade de Governança do Legado Olímpico (AGLO), a federal agency created earlier this year by Brazil President Michel Temer to implement the legacy plan of the Rio 2016 facilities.
Since the close of the the Rio 2016 Games in September 2016, the events at Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca, the largest of the Olympic sites, have been few and far between. But with recent openings for the Rio Bike Fest last month and now the Jogos da Baixada opening ceremony, Minister Picciani is confident that the site will be busy for the remainder of the year.
“We have about ten events already scheduled to the end this year and forty other proposals under review by the Autoridade de Governança do Legado Olímpico,” said Picciani.