Minister of Sports guarantees safe Olympics

07 de julho de 2016

São Paulo – The Brazilian minister of Sports Leonardo Picciani guaranteed that safety will not be a concern in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympic Games, which are set to begin on August 5. This was one of the topics of a teleconference with the international press this Thursday (7). Besides the Brazilian armed forces, Picciani noted that professionals from over 100 countries are working at an integrated security center in the city.

“The Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces and the Rio de Janeiro Police have taken all necessary steps for a safe Olympics,” he asserted.

According to him, over 9,000 officers from the National Security Force will be working during the competition, and apart from police officers on health leave, all of the policemen in the state of Rio de Janeiro will be working during the Games.

“Rio de Janeiro has a history of hosting big events, like the FIFA World Cup final, the FIFA Confederations Cup final, Pope Francis’ visit and Rio +20. There never was any serious incident, security-wise,” Picciani pointed out.

The minister also touched on zika virus infection, another concern for people from several countries who are pondering whether to come to Brazil. “Fighting zika and the aedes aegypti mosquito is a priority in Brazil. The Ministry of Health is doing all it can to fight the mosquito,” he said.

According to the minister, there has been a drop of approximately 90% in zika infections in Rio. According to Picciani, 7,000 people were infected in January, and only 700 in May. “By August we will be close to zero cases,” he claimed.

Picciani remarked that 43 test-events were held leading into the Olympics, involving 7,000 athletes, and none was contaminated.

The minister also discussed the chance of medals for Brazil in the Games. “Our goal is to be among the first ten countries. Brazil invested in preparing its athletes like never before, with athlete sponsorship grants bolsa-atleta and bolsa-pódio and investment in facilities and equipment. We are expecting the Brazilian delegation to be successful,” he said. For the Paralympic Games, Picciani said that Brazil’s goal is to be among the top five.

Regarding the opening of Line 4 of the Rio de Janeiro metro slated for July 31, Picciani said all necessary tests have been made to ensure operation goes smoothly. During the Games, he added, the Line will serve only ticket-holders and other people involved in the event, such as volunteers and workers. “After the Games, the new metro line will be open to the public and it will become a legacy to the city,” he pointed out.

Questioned about water pollution levels in places where events such as sailing will happen, the minister guaranteed that the sites have been treated. “The areas where Olympic competitions will be held have been decontaminated,” he said.

Regarding Guanabara Bay, Picciani said 55% of the water has been decontaminated – a rate that falls short of the 80% target that was previously set. “We will proceed with decontamination work, not just because of the Games, but to improve the lives of those who live or visit the Olympics host city,” he stressed.

President Dilma Rousseff, the minister said, will have her place guaranteed at the Olympics opening ceremony. “President Rousseff will be invited to attend the opening ceremony in the presidential seats at the Maracanã Stadium, in an exclusive area,” he said. According to Picciani, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is also being invited to attend, as are other Brazilian ex-presidents.

As for public attendance, Picciani said that the Rio 2016 Committee reports that 70% of tickets have been sold. “We are certain that the Games will be a success,” he concluded.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum