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Rio 2016 - Leaving a Legacy

Can you believe that it’s been 4 years since the London Olympics in 2012? 

A lot has changed since that July 4 years ago. We have seen the first Pope emerge from Latin America in Pope Francis, witnessed Leicester City become the Premier League champions and mourned the death of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela. 

2016 has certainly been a good year for sport, with Wimbledon, the Euros and Formula 1 all featuring heavily on TV screens across the world.  But enough nostalgia, let’s move on to the main event - the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. 

The prospect of sitting on Copacabana beach watching the Volleyball seems like an ideal way to spend the summer, particularly when you compare sunny Rio to cold and damp Britain! However, the Games haven’t been short of controversial points, with headlines in the news such as: 

Rory McIlroy pulls out of Rio Olympics due to Zika virus fears
The recent outbreak of Zika across the Southern Americas has been a major talking point. The disease has seen athletes and fans alike question whether they would still travel to Brazil and chance being infected by the disease. Athlete Rory McIlroy made it very clear in a recent statement that he would not be travelling to Rio to represent his country, Northern Ireland, in the Olympic golf tournament stating “My health and my family’s health comes before anything else”.

119 Russian athletes are banned from the Rio Olympics due to ongoing doping scandal
Russia has had 119 athletes banned from the Olympics by the International Olympic Committee after an investigation into doping of the athletes. Additionally, it was confirmed this week that Russia would be ruled out of Paralympics next month. This high profile scandal has been spoken about around the world, from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Jim Morris in my local pub in Epping.

Despite the fact that the lead up to the Rio Olympics has been relatively negative, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the legacy left will be positive. This is certainly important for the locals, who were promised in 2009 when the Rio team were awarded the event that the Olympics “will leave a lasting legacy of improvements for the city”. Rio de Janeiro is also known as "a cidade maravilhosa" (a marvellous city) and it has certainly become so, with stadiums, new infrastructure and major industrial improvements all hoping to leave a lasting impact post-Olympics.  


One area which was always under scrutiny when the city was awarded the Games was the public transportation network. Rio will welcome around 500,000 tourists over the course of the Games, so the Rio Organising committee and the government needed to ensure that tourists would be able to commute easily. 

A new metro line linking Rio’s city centre, the beach areas, tourist neighbourhoods and the main Olympic zone will ensure tourists will pay reasonable prices and be able to commute faster around points of interest. 

Alongside the metro line, a new light rail system has been built which will cut journey times for commuters and visitors, along with reducing car traffic and making it easier for people who have mobility issues to get around.

Once the Games are over, the service will continue for locals. Rio's suburbs and poorer northern regions are now better integrated with the west, through a new system of buses and rapid transit systems leaving a lasting legacy beyond the Olympics. 

Barra Olympic Park 

The main Olympic Park will play host to 9 competitions during the course of the Games, and was also the mainstage for the spectacular opening ceremony. 

With nine competitions in total, seven venues will remain in place once the Games have finished.  Two of the venues will be dismantled and the materials will be used to create four schools around the city. The ironically named ‘Future Area’ is a 12,000 seater stadium designed by Lopes, Santos & Ferreira Gomes and UK firm AndArchitects and features a ‘nomadic architecture’ theme. 

Other plans for legacy in Rio de Janeiro: 
  • 800,000 students across Brazil have access to increased sports activities
  • Rio 2016 has formed partnerships with industry associations to help small businesses supply goods and services to the Games
  • Expansion of the Rio pacification programme
  • Revitalisation of the Rio Port area
  • Reforestation of areas earmarked for venue construction
The 2016 Rio Olympics have the makings of a great spectacle for all and will certainly be one to remember. It is heartening to see that the financial benefits that come with involvement in the Games are being used to enrich communities in need within the area and beyond. Looking to the future, it will be interesting to see how the growing infrastructure in Brazil’s capital city will influence construction projects across South America as a whole… Watch this space!

If you are a construction professional looking to work on new and exciting infrastructure and transport projects across the world, check out our Technical jobs page!
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