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Approximately 1,000 athletes and Carnival revellers on Sunday, February 12, took part in a 5.5km race that marked the reopening of the Sambodromo, stage of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival’s samba school parades and venue for the Archery events at the Rio 2016™ Olympic and Paralympic Games as well as the start and finish lines for the Olympic Marathon.
The 35 million Brazilian reals (around $20 million USD) renovation of the Sambodromo was completed as scheduled by Rio de Janeiro’s city government, in time for Carnival 2012 next week, and over four years ahead of the Rio 2016™ Games. With the renovation, the project created by architect Oscar Niemeyer is finally completed. Four new grandstands were built on one of the sides of the Sambodromo, similar to those located on the opposite side, increasing capacity from 60,000 to 72,500 people.
“The opening of the Sambodromo is a testament to how the Games are integrated with the city. The choice of this venue for the Archery and the Marathon events not only gives us the opportunity to stage sports competitions against a worldwide known setting, but also offers Rio de Janeiro a renovated, enlarged stage for one of the city's largest popular celebrations. For the Rio 2016™ Games, it also means completing a sports venue over four years in advance," Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the Rio 2016™ Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, celebrated at the reopening of the venue.
Almost 600 construction workers took turns to guarantee a 24-hour work flow, which was initiated after Carnival 2011. The venue was adapted to offer better access to people with disabilities, more open boxes (from 1,094 to 1,823), and new and bigger hospitality boxes with balconies. The Sambodromo will also have sound systems on both sides of the road.
The Rio de Janeiro city government has also recovered the structure and painting of the existing facilities and renovated the museum and the stage of the Apoteose Square, located at the end of the Sambodromo.
"With over four years to go to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro has already completed two construction works: first, the Athletes’ Park, and now, the Sambodromo. I must say the idea of completing Niemeyer's project has resulted from the Brazilian Olympic dream. The great moment Rio will experience in 2016 will acclaim this place, which is Rio de Janeiro's landmark," said Rio de Janeiro mayor, Eduardo Paes.
Before the renovation works
After the works
Participants in the race that marked the venue’s reopening, which departed from and arrived at the Sambodromo, just like the Olympic marathon will in 2016, were invited to run wearing Carnival costumes to the sound of past and current samba school songs.
Former-marathon runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, bronze medalist at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and winner of the International Olympic Committee’s Pierre de Coubertin medal, was one of the participants and approved the new Sambodromo.
"These grandstands will certainly be filled for the Rio Olympic Games Marathon finish, which will further motivate and encourage the athletes, making this moment even more special. I will not be competing in 2016, but today I've had an idea of what the event will be like, and I will certainly watch it."
After the race, veteran ladies from several samba schools performed the traditional floor-washing ceremony for good luck. After that, the Beija-Flor samba school from Nilopolis, Carnival 2011's winner, tried the new lighting and sound systems during the last technical rehearsal for Carnival.