Igor Kazikov evaluated the course of preparation of Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games

4 September 2013  the Ministry of Sport of the Russian Federation hosted the first meeting of the Headquarters for control over maintenance of participation of Russian athletes in the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro under the leadership of Deputy Minister, the Olympic champion Pavel Kolobkov.

One of the main agenda topics of the meeting was the issue about the special aspects of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad and  activities to assure the participation of the Russian Olympic team in these Games. A report on this subject was made by the Director/Head of the Department for assuring the participation in the Olympic sports events of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) Igor Kazikov. He was on the ROC delegation, that visited the capital of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in late August this year.

In his speech Igor Kazikov noted both positive and negative aspects in the nature of preparation for the Olympics-2016. Igor Kazikov didn’t overlook and problem issues of the modern Rio de Janeiro that are now being solved by the city authorities and the Organizing Committee of the Rio 2016.

By the way, the Games Organizing Committee is chaired by the President of the NOC of Brazil, member of the IOC Carlush Nuzman – a native of the USSR. He is fluent in the Russian language.  More than 500 people are working for the organizing Committee, including 50 from the commands of the previous Organizing Committees, mainly from London. It is expected that by the end of this year, there will be over 600 staff members in the Organizing Committee, and by the start of the Games this figure will raise up to 8 thousand. In addition, 70 thousand volunteers and 65 thousand suppliers will be involved in the administration of the Games .

Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro will be held from 5 to 21 August 2016. For the first time in the history of the Olympic movement South America will host  the Olympic games. That may cause additional difficulties for the organizers and the athletes – the difficulties with climate pattern. The point is that in this period it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere, the temperature can vary from +15 to +30 degrees Celsius. In addition, in August steady rains are possible, which may have an impact on those sports that compete in the open air.

The speaker noted that almost half of the necessary sports facilities of the infrastructure are ready for the  future Olympic games – namely 47%.  Most of those facilities which were built for the 2007 Pan American Games. The remaining facilities will consist of 28% of new buildings and 25% of the temporary buildings.

Conditionally Olympic Rio de Janeiro is divided into 4 zones. The main is the Barra, where the competitions in all types of gymnastics will take place, as well as Cycling Track, Basketball, Judo, Wrestling, Fencing, Taekwondo, Handball, Tennis, Swimming, Synchronized Swimming and Water Polo. In addition, in this area the Olympic village and the Main Press Center are located.

In the Deodoro zone, which simultaneously is the largest military base in South America, competitions in Shooting, Rugby-7, Modern Pentathlon, Equestrian, Field Hockey, Cycling, Whitewater, Mountain Bike and BMX will take place.

In the zone of Maracana the opening and closing ceremonies will be held, as well as football competitions (“Maracana” stadium), athletic competitions (“Joao Avelanzh” stadium), volleyball competitions and archery competitions (the famous “Sambadrome”, where the traditional carnival takes place).

In the area of Copacabana competitions in sailing, Cycling on the highway, rowing, beach volleyball, swimming in the open water and triathlon will take place.

In the period of the Games around the Olympic village 20 training centers will be used, including judo, taekwondo, wrestling, basketball, handball, gymnastics, volleyball, swimming and triathlon training centers. A number of sporting venues will be at the same time training venues. Such as shooting range Sambadrome, “RioCentro” hall, which is an exhibition centre, similar to English «ExCel»,

The Olympic village is located in the Barra district. By tradition it will consist of a residential area and an international area. The total area of the Olympic village is 53 hectares.

In the international area a typical for all Olympic games list of services is provided (a Bank, a booking office, a shop, a post office, a hairdressing saloon and a flower shop).

In the residential area there will be 7 condominiums, consisting of 17-storeyed houses with two-, three- or four-room apartments. In total the Olympic village is ready to accept 20000 participants.

The peculiarity of the Olympic village is that it will be the one for all sports except football. Administrative offices and medical centers are situated on the first floors of the houses.

Construction of the village is done by a private company. After the end of the Games, it will be elite housing. At this date 3 buildings have already been built.

However, sailing and rowing competitions will be held far enough from the Olympic village, therefore the Committee suggested to accommodate sailor athletes on the liners, moored near the yacht club. It hasn’t yet been determined where the competitions in diving will take place. Furthermore, the football tournament will be held in the other cities of the country: Brasilia, Salvador, San Paulo and Belo Horizonte.

According to the Director/Head of the Department for assuring the participation in the Olympic sports events of the ROC, there shouldn’t be a problem with attending the competitions at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilians are a very sporty nation. Active rest is their way of living.

At the weekend the embankments turn into the sports grounds, where serious competitions in beach football and volleyball, as well as in other sports take place.

The transport service plan envisages the construction of high speed bus routes, 3 new metro lines, 6 light-rail metro lines. The high speed buses are a new word in the development of transport infrastructure. It is assumed that these lines will connect between each other all city districts. Special stops and reserved rows are being constructed for them. These rows will also be used as the special “Olympic” lines, where  only accredited transport will be allowed. Thus, the organizers hope to solve the traffic problem,  which is rather complicated in the city.

The organizing Committee plans to allocate a beach section in the Barra district for the participants of the Games. A  shuttle will connect it with the Olympic village. At the same time, swimming in the coastal waters may be dangerous because of the heavy current. One can be carried away into the ocean, which often leads to the fatal outcomes. Therefore, in Rio de Janeiro it’s allowed to swim only near the coast.

Traditionally transport service provided to the participants and the spectators shall be performed by one of the major auto group. At the Games of the XXXI Olympiad “Nissan” will do that. It should be noted that the flight from Moscow to Rio de Janeiro takes about 15 hours. At present, Russian airline companies  don’t have flights to Rio de Janeiro. However the Headquarters has instructed to elaborate the issue of organizing the direct flights from Moscow to Rio de Janeiro with Aeroflot and other Russian airline companies.  That will reduce the travel time by 2-3 hours. It will also make it  much easier to deliver the sport delegation.

The security problem of today’s Rio de Janeiro hasn’t yet been solved. At the present time, the city authorities are carrying out a program of so-called “appeasement” of notorious favelas. 562 million reals are appropriated for this program. Police stations were established in 40 favelas. At the same time, the government is not able to eliminate the favelas completely, as it is related to the reluctance of residents to leave the affordable housing in such an expensive city as Rio de Janeiro.

Each district of the city, even the most respectable, has its own favela. That definitely caused discomfort in the citizens. The only area of Rio de Janeiro, where there is no favelas, is Barra. Therefore, the major part of Olympic facilities is concentrated there. In general, this is perhaps the most serious problem that will not  be solved thoroughly. Therefore, the participants and the guests of the Games should be extremely careful outside of the Olympic objects.

At the Staff meeting, it was noted that Rio de Janeiro is located just above sea level. Therefore, altitude adaptation is not required here. Climate adaptation and adaptation to the time zone are necessary, that is why the Headquarters suggested that the Russian sports federations think over the whole check in maneuver. May be some special research will be ordered that will help to develop an optimal model of preparing the athletes for the Games and of the check into the Olympic village. It’s necessary because the incorrectly spent 3-4 days before the start may ruin all the great work on preparing for the competition, conducted over the years.

It is already known that the Games will include 306 events, not 302 as the previous ones. That is due to the inclusion of Golf and Rugby-7. However, not everything is yet clear about the disciplines in the Games program and the international selection system. This information will be available at the end of this year or early next year. After that it will be possible to do more focused planning.

“In general, one should note a sufficiently high level of readiness of the city for the Games from the point of view of the availability of sports facilities. There seems to be two main organizational problems: a very complicated transport situation in the city (even the  high-speed buses and «Olympic» lines on the roads will not help everywhere); and, of course, provision of security”, – concluded Igor Kazikov.

Besides that, at the meeting the Staff dealt with the Concept of preparation for the Games. This is the main strategic document reflecting all of the features associated with the competition venues. At the present moment, it is being finalized. Following which it will be re-considered and approved. It is also planned that in the nearest future meetings of the expert councils will take place, where the adjustments to the target comprehensive preparation programs developed by the All-Russian sports federations will be made.