The Olympic Flame Heads for Rio

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Inside the Museu do Amanha (Museum of Tomorrow) in Brazil. (Photo credit: Cesar Barreto)
Inside the Museu do Amanha (Museum of Tomorrow) in Brazil. (Photo credit: Cesar Barreto)

As of June 30, there are 36 days left until the Aug. 5 opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympics at the iconic Macarana Stadium; closing ceremonies on Aug. 21 will also be held at this famous stadium. And while we’re in the numbers mode, know that the games will showcase 42 sports in 306 events, played out in 37 venues, involving 206 countries fielding some 10,000 athletes.

Further, the Olympic torch touched down in Brazil on May 3, taking off again on its 95-day relay through the country on a route with stops in 329 Brazilian cities and towns, to be carried aloft by more than 12,000 torch bearers before arriving in Macarana Stadium for the opening night gala.

And while our fingers are on the numbers keys, of numerical interest is that the U.S. is Brazil’s second largest source of tourists, attracting 575,796 visitors in 2015; Brazil expects approximately 600,000 people to join the Olympics party.

Right now, there’s one more important number to consider: the $160 that Americans visiting Brazil will not have to pay for a Brazilian visa to enter the country between right now and Sept. 18. This visa waiver also applies to tourists arriving from Canada, Australia and Japan, and the waiver covering all four countries applies to all visitors, not just those holding Olympic Games tickets.

Certainly, this is a window of opportunity to sell travel-visa-free Brazil, says Michael Nagy, commercial director of the Rio Convention & Visitors Bureau, and “those who haven’t been to Rio in the last five years may not recognize it. Thanks to very bold urban projects that completely updated areas that had been in decline, the city has been reconnected with new transportation lines and attractions that include new sports facilities, cultural spaces and leisure areas.”

The exterior of the Museu do Amanha (Museum of Tomorrow) in Brazil. (Photo credit: Byron Prujansk)
The exterior of the Museu do Amanha (Museum of Tomorrow) in Brazil. (Photo credit: Byron Prujansk)

One of the city’s biggest projects is the re-inventing of the harborside Porto Maravilha area. The icon of this waterfront restoration is the Museu do Amanha (Museum of Tomorrow), while the most recent addition to the cultural scene is the Museu Selecao Brasiliera in the Barra da Tejuca district. The latter celebrates the history of Brazil’s national futebol (soccer) traditions. Olympic Park, the city’s main competition hub hosting 16 Olympic events, is also in the seaside Barra suburb, as are many of the new hotels such as the Grand Hyatt Rio, Hilton Barra and Windsor MarapendiTrump Rio de Janeiro is close to opening.

For the duration of the Olympics, Porto Maravilha will be transformed into a giant entertainment and amusement zone, while the newly renovated port district, in the heart of historic Rio, now boasts a new “Olympic Boulevard that stretches almost two miles along the dock side; here visitors will be able to follow all the Olympic action on big screens while listening to musicians from Brazil and beyond and dining out at food trucks and bars. There will even be a hot air balloon tethered near the waterfront, taking visitors up some 500 ft. for bird’s-eye views across the Olympic City,” says Nagy. Additionally, from Aug. 4 until the end of the Paralympic Games in September, Brazilian and international stars are turning out for more than 100 concerts on the Boulevard, where artists, street performers, fireworks and light shows will keep the crowds entertained night and day.

Clients who will be in Rio during July and August can purchase a Rio Cultural Passport, permitting free or discounted entry to more than 500 cultural attractions, including plays, concerts, dance performances, art exhibition, films and street events; the Passport price is approximately $5. For more information on the Rio Cultural Passport, visit passaporteculturalrio.com. For more information on Rio, visit rcvb.com.br. For more information on Brazil, visit visitbrasil.com/en.