x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Carnival as Rio awarded 2016 Olympics

Brazil will become the first South American country to host the Games after a historic vote by the International Olympic Committee.

Residents celebrate on Copacabana beach after Rio de Janeiro won the bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.
Residents celebrate on Copacabana beach after Rio de Janeiro won the bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

Rio de Janeiro claimed a stunning victory in the race to host the 2016 Olympics as favourites Chicago slumped to a crushing defeat. Brazil will become the first South American country to host the games after a historic vote by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Copenhagen this evening. Rio will host the summer games just two years after Brazil host the 2014 football World Cup and the announcement led to wild celebrations among the 50,000 people at a party on the famous Copacabana beach. The IOC president Jacques Rogge, who opened the envelope containing the name of the winning city, said: "All four projects are of the highest quality ? thank you for your hard work, energy and commitment. But in every competition there can only be one winner." Chicago had been the favourites to succeed London especially after the US president Barack Obama flew into Copenhagen to address the IOC this morning. The Obama magic did not work this time as the American city was knocked out in the first round of voting, followed by Tokyo, leaving a vote between Rio and Madrid. In the end Rio were convincing victors, beating Madrid by a wide margin, 66 votes to 32, in the final round as all the previous votes for Chicago and Tokyo swung behind them. Chicago had been knocked out after polling just 18 votes in the first round, compared to 22 for Tokyo, 26 for Rio and 28 for Madrid. In the second round, Rio came first with 46 votes, Madrid had 29 and Tokyo were eliminated with 20. That left a head-to-head with Madrid and the Spanish city had confounded expectations by getting so far. But Rio's excellent campaign ? masterminded by Mike Lee, who was communications director for London's bid ? proved enough. Britain's Olympics minister Tessa Jowell immediately offered her congratulations and said London would offer Rio all the support and advice they could. Jowell said: "As the first South American nation to host the summer games this groundbreaking decision is a unique opportunity for Brazil. "Rio de Janeiro now has the chance not just to deliver an amazing sporting event, but to inspire people of all ages, renew and regenerate communities and to leave a legacy that will benefit Brazilians for generations to come. "In line with the IOC's desire that knowledge and experience is passed from host to host, I would be delighted to offer Rio de Janeiro 2016 whatever help and support we can as it embarks on its own Olympic and Paralympic journey." In their final presentation, Brazil's charismatic President Lula appealed to the IOC to give the Olympics to South America for the first time. Lula said: "It is time to address this imbalance and to send a powerful message to the whole world: the Olympic Games to all peoples, to all continents, to all mankind. "For South America, it will be a magical moment. For the Olympic Movement, it will be an opportunity to feel the warmth of our people, the exuberance of our culture, the sun of our joy." Lula also stressed the government would provide the strongest of financial guarantees.

* PA Sport