By Dallas Ripka and Charles Cooper
Our first full day in Rio focused on the major upcoming sporting events, the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, which are both being hosted by Brazil. These sporting events are an integral focus of our documentary as we explore the preparations being made and the effect of the projected flood of tourists in coming months.
Our day began with a presentation of the city’s Olympics plans at the remarkable Rio Operations Center, a high-tech hub, built by IBM, through which city agencies track crime, traffic, and other aspects of urban life moment by moment.
Students sat around the office table and viewed a presentation given by Thais Oliveira, the marketing and communications manager of the Municipal Olympic Company, an arm of city government.
Oliveira began her presentation acknowledging, “Rio is a mess right now,” and repeated the phrase multiple times throughout her presentation. However, she painted a picture of a bright and innovative future for the city, pledging that within the next decade Rio
would be the “best city to live, work, and visit.” The Olympic Company has developed a master plan for how the huge sports event will help improve city life long after the games leave town, in a transition from “Games Mode” to “Legacy Mode.” The four areas the plan emphasizes are urban mobility, urban infrastructure, social development, and the environment.
Following the presentation, Oliveira opened the floor for a quick Q&A with the students. In her responses she stressed the fact that the Olympic projects are being funded 98 percent by private investors who are being motivated by tax breaks and other incentives. When pressed about the issue of residents in the favelas who are being displaced, Oliveira insisted the favelas were not being overlooked, as “the favelas are part of what make the city.”
After taking a short lunch break, we had an opportunity to do something that most soccer fans only dream of. We toured Estádio Mario Filho, better known as Maracanã Stadium. If you are a soccer/fútbol fan, this is definitely one of the arenas on your bucket list.
Holding nearly 80,000 fans, Maracanã will host the final match of the 2014 World Cup. One of the interesting features of the stadium is that when it rains, as it did a little during our visit, the water is collected and used in the bathrooms, so it does not need to pull any excess water from outside sources or overtax storm-water drains.
It was an amazing experience to see and be on the same field where Pele, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho all set foot. It was also hard to believe that our Brazil trip was almost over!