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Rio 2016™ strengthens its organisational structure for the next stage of the project

Sidney Levy is the new CEO and Leonardo Gryner becomes Chief Operations Officer


Sidney Levy, Carlos Arthur Nuzman and Leonardo Gryner (Photo: Rio 2016™/Marcio Rodrigues)

As part of its strategic planning, the Rio 2016™ Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games announces an internal restructuring process whose goal is to increase its capacities in different areas of the project, as well as improving internal procedures and coordination between all areas. Sidney Levy will become the organisation’s CEO and Leonardo Gryner will become the Chief Operations Officer (COO).


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The article mentions that he was President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Rio from 2005 to 2007.

Didn't know such things existed outside the United States.

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Brazil has two winter sports federations, one for skiing/snowboarding/biathlon and the other one for all ice sports (including skating, ice hockey, curling and sliding sports).

Actually, Brasil already has an up-and-coming figure skater. Florent Amodio. Unfortunately, he competes under the flag of France since he is French by adoption. But that's a good start for Brasil's winter ambitions! ;)

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London Olympic organizers pass along knowledge to Rio

(AP) -- London Olympic organizers began arriving in Brazil on Friday to pass on their knowledge to the hosts of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The meetings come less than two months after nine Rio committee employees were fired for illegally downloading files from British organizers during the London Games.

London officials will spend nearly a week in Brazil sharing their experiences after seven years of preparations, which culminated with a successful games just a few months ago.

The official "debrief" will go ahead without IOC President Jacques Rogge, whose doctors advised him to skip the long flight to Rio after recent hip replacement surgery.

IOC executive director Gilbert Felli and other top IOC officials will attend the Rio meetings, which will bring into focus the hard challenges facing Brazilian organizers with less than four years to go before the staging of the first Olympics in South America.

Also on hand will be organizers of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, along with the three bid cities for the 2020 Summer Games - Madrid, Istanbul and Tokyo.

The sessions - taking place from Saturday through Wednesday - will allow organizers to review all aspects of the games, including planning, technology, transportation, security and accommodations. The discussions will also take into consideration the experiences of athletes, fans, volunteers and the media.

The Rio organizing committee is coming off major leadership changes and has huge preparation tasks ahead. Among the obstacles are ongoing legal disputes, tricky interaction with the local governments and the change of plans for some sports venues.

Rio recently announced the rugby venue won't be built where it was originally planned because a local partner failed to meet deadlines, and there is still uncertainty over the location of the field hockey arena. The land where the golf course will be constructed remains the source of a legal dispute.

Last week, the Rio committee announced leadership changes to "strengthen its organizational structure," with executive Sidney Levy taking over as the new CEO beginning next year. Levy will replace Leonardo Gryner, who becomes the committee's chief operations officer.

The scandal over the illegally downloaded files prompted heavy criticism of Rio organizers in Brazil, but London officials say they have put the episode behind them.

The Rio committee said the employees acted alone. London officials said the documents likely would have been provided to the Rio team had they requested them through the proper channels.

London organizing committee chairman Sebastian Coe will head the transfer of knowledge meetings, which will take place at a hotel in Rio's Barra neighborhood, where most Olympic venues will be located. IOC vice president Nawal El Moutawakel, who heads the 2016 coordination commission, is also expected in the city for the debrief.



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The London 2012 Debriefing Begins In Rio


The International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Debriefing of the London 2012 Games gets underway on Saturday 17 November 2012 in Rio de Janeiro.

This is the seventh event of its kind run by the IOC and is a key element in the IOC’s Transfer of Knowledge Programme. The Debriefing will see the staff of the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) sharing their knowledge and experiences with representatives from Sochi 2014, Rio 2016, PyeongChang 2018 and the three Candidate Cities for 2020.

The Debriefing will look at all of the principal areas of organising the Games and will give the various participants an opportunity to exchange ideas with each other after having had time to digest the results of the London Games. This event was preceded by a technology-specific debriefing and will be followed by an event looking at the Paralympic Games.

Speaking ahead of the opening, the IOC’s Olympic Games Executive Director, Gilbert Felli, said, “One of the main roles that the IOC plays in helping to organise the Games is providing the Organising Committees and their partners with access to the latest knowledge and experiences from the Olympics.

We do this throughout the year with our Olympic Games Knowledge Management (OGKM) Programme but the Official Games Debriefing, along with the observer and secondee programmes at Games time, are invaluable to the host cities. They allow them to get the latest experience and lessons from the people who have just done the job, and this immediate knowledge transfer is consistently praised by the cities as being very beneficial to their planning.”

The London 2012 event is expected to see about 500 participants from across the various Games organisers and Candidate Cities take part in a combination of plenary, breakout and one-to-one sessions that will look at different topics like culture, media operations, ceremonies, the Olympic Torch Relay, sport, National Olympic Committee and International Federation services, workforce, venues, and commercial programmes. The experience of key client groups, such as the athletes and spectators, will permeate many of the different groups but will also be looked at in their own right as part of the discussion around the services offered to different Games participants.

The IOC’s Knowledge Management Programme (OGKM) was created during the preparations for the Sydney 2000 Games and since then, has evolved into an integrated platform of services and documentation, which assists organisers in their Games preparations, lets them evaluate their progress and success, and helps to define the future of the Games. Amongst the activities offered by OGKM are a Games-time observer programme, technical manuals, workshops, an extranet, secondee programme, Games evaluation programme, and of course, the Games debriefing.


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London passes Olympic baton to Rio organizers

RIO DE JANEIRO -- London organizers have symbolically passed the Olympic baton to the hosts of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

London organizing committee President Sebastian Coe gave the baton to Rio committee President Carlos Nuzman on Sunday during the official debriefing of the 2012 Games.

Coe handed over the silver-colored baton, which was inscribed with the names of all the past host cities. He says he's certain "you will organize an excellent Olympics."

Coe also gave Nuzman part of the 2012 Games pyre "to provide inspiration during the cycle before the completion of the first games in South America."

IOC executive director Gilbert Felli opened the debriefing saying "we all must search for information and ask questions to soak up the experience of the London team."

The meetings end Wednesday.





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It is probably just a gesture from London 2012 - something between London and Rio. I remember Kuala Lumpur giving Manchester a drum and Manchester giving Melbourne the flags of all the competing nations for the Commonwealth Games

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It is probably just a gesture from London 2012 - something between London and Rio. I remember Kuala Lumpur giving Manchester a drum and Manchester giving Melbourne the flags of all the competing nations for the Commonwealth Games

yes, as mentioned in the following quote


Nuzman explained that the idea came out of a discussion during the London Games. “At the end of the London Games, we had the idea of exchanging something, and who knows if that doesn’t become common practice for future editions? We’re getting the baton from the big boss of the Games”, said Nuzman.

Sebastian Coe thought it was a great idea. “I thought it was a fantastic idea, and have brought a baton inscribed with the names of all host cities of the past, with certainty that you will organize an excellent Olympics”, he concluded.


Rio 2016

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Successful IOC Debriefing of London 2012 comes to close

The International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Debriefing of the London 2012 Games wrapped up today in Rio de Janeiro, bringing a close to a week-long transfer of knowledge between organisers of the Games of the XXX Olympiad and future host cities.

Representatives from the IOC and the London 2012 Organising Committee shared their best practices and experiences from this summer’s Games with over 500 participants from Sochi 2014, Rio 2016, PyeongChang 2018, and the 2020 Candidate Cities: Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid.

“This was the 7th edition of the Debriefing and we saw once again what a crucial part of our broader transfer of knowledge programme it is,” said IOC Olympic Games Executive Director Gilbert Felli. “London 2012 will leave behind many great legacies for the city of London, its citizens, the country, as well as the sports movement in general, and their active and open participation here has also ensured that the Olympic Movement will continue to benefit from London 2012 long into the future as well.”

The Debriefing, which ran from 14 to 21 November, featured plenary sessions, breakout sessions and one-on-one meetings that allowed future Games organisers to maximise their discussions with London 2012 and the IOC and strengthen the learning process. Participants took away a number of key points from the Debriefing, in particular on the importance of vision development and implementation, product and experience, and delivering the Games.

“This was a fantastic opportunity for Rio 2016 and the other cities to learn from London,” said Nawal El Moutawakel, IOC Vice-President and Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for Rio 2016. “We saw how much time and effort London dedicated to integrating its key stakeholders, including the athletes, spectators and partners, into its vision of the Games to deliver the best possible product. The close ties London 2012 enjoyed with the different levels of government, partners and delivery agencies was also crucial. Rio 2016 is already on the right track in both of these areas and the Debriefing will definitely help it refine its work going forward. But staging the Olympic Games is a complex project and there is no time to waste. Rio 2016 is aware of this and we know it will do a good job.”

Denis Oswald, Chairman of the Coordination Commission for London 2012, added that another key lesson from the Debriefing was the importance that London placed on vision planning and engaging the public.

“The very successful Games this summer were the result of excellent collaboration between the IOC and London 2012 over the years, and much credit has to be given to Sebastian Coe and Paul Deighton for that,” he said. “London’s ability to create a powerful vision of the Games and stick to it consistently from the day they won the right to host the Games until the day they ended is definitely something future organisers should take away from the Debriefing. London 2012 and its partners also did a brilliant job engaging the local population and the worldwide Olympic audience. I have no doubt that Rio 2016 will be looking at London’s successes and adapting them to their own project.”

London 2012 Chair Sebastian Coe commented, “The Olympic Games are different each and every time which adds to their endurance and appeal. We have, over the last week, imparted a massive amount of planning and delivery information that we learnt along our seven-year journey. Specifically we shared our engagement plans that saw millions of people across the UK join in and celebrate the Games. We talked about the importance of linking your vision with ongoing legacy priorities and we discussed the critical importance of integrated delivery with stakeholders and partners.” He continued, “Rio is a wonderful city and the Rio2016 team has a fantastic opportunity to deliver a Games which will transform the City and the lives of its young people.”.

“London organised fantastic Olympic Games and this debriefing was instrumental in uncovering the processes and the planning that made this successful edition of the Games possible. The baton has been handed to us and we will now apply the lessons learned during the past four days and add our contribution to the Olympic Movement, so that in four years’ time we can pass the baton to the next hosts having advanced the Games even further.” said Carlos Arthur Nuzman, President of Rio 2016.

The IOC’s knowledge management programme (OGKM) was created during preparations for the Sydney 2000 Games and, since then, has evolved into an integrated platform of services and documentation, which assists organisers in their Games preparations, lets them evaluate their progress and success, and helps to define the future of the Games. Among the activities offered by OGKM are a Games-time observer programme, technical manuals, workshops, an extranet, secondee programme, Games evaluation programme, and the Games Debriefing.


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Party-loving Rio takes lessons from London to shape up for Olympics

Brazilian Olympic chiefs today revealed they will take the best from London 2012 as they prepare to host the first Games in South America.

The Rio Games in 2016 will borrow innovations from this summer’s Games ranging from Olympic fan parks and in-venue entertainment to money-saving demountable venues and training methods for the 70,000 Olympic volunteers, the Brazilians said.

Rio 2016 president Carlos Nuzman was speaking to the Standard at the end of a Rio summit for Sebastian Coe and his team to pass on the lessons of the London Games, which could also help Brazil when it hosts the 2014 football World Cup. Mr Nuzman said: “We need to learn from your culture — how to harness the passion for sport into better organisation.”

His comments are echoed by newly re-elected Rio mayor Eduardo Paes who says the Games will be pivotal if the party capital of South America is to become a more sophisticated business destination. With less than four years to go until the opening ceremony at the Maracana football stadium, Rio faces big challenges. In a bid to remedy chronic road congestion, the city is building four metro lines and road tunnels and 100 miles of dedicated bus lanes to link four Olympic zones.

Golf and hockey venues are still not finalised and city authorities have been accused of uprooting deprived communities near Olympic venues as they seek to regain control of the crime-ridden favelas, or slums. The infrastructure and venues budget is also being reviewed amid fears it will break the £7 billion forecast. But Mr Nuzman insists these issues can be overcome. He said: “It helps because you have infrastructure ready for the World Cup. The stadia that you need will be ready.”

In 2009, Rio won the bid to host the Games with a pledge to the IOC to showcase the city’s natural beauty, framing events against the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugar Loaf mountain. Highlights are set to include beach volleyball, triathlon and marathon swimming at Copacabana. The beach will host millions in a fan zone inspired by the British Airways Park live fan zone in Stratford’s Olympic Park.

Rio could be the most compact Games as every sports venue is in the city. The gymnastics hall, swimming pool and athletics stadium built for the Pan American Games are being upgraded.

Work has begun on the Olympic village, which will be sold as gated apartments after the Games. Private firms will fund the village and some of the Olympic Park on the disused F1 circuit, although Rio 2016 chiefs are nervous of a repeat of 2008’s credit crunch that hit London’s preparations, forcing a multi-billion-pound taxpayer bailout.

Olympic tickets will go on sale after the World Cup and Mr Nuzman aims to copy the London model of premium prices for top events to subsidise seats for the masses. He said this balancing act was even more “critical” in Rio given the gulf between rich and poor.

Mr Nuzman added: “Rio will become the highest example of how a city changes for the Olympics.”


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IOC tells Rio organisers "time is ticking"

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics organisers were told on Tuesday they needed to push ahead with their preparations because time was an issue, the International Olympic Committee said.

Rio has not finalised its budget for the Olympics as well as the venues for several sports, including rugby, hockey and golf.

Rio organisers said last month the Sao Januario Stadium, home of soccer club Vasco da Gama, had missed the Oct. 31 deadline and they would therefore revisit plans for the Joao Havelange Stadium to host the rugby sevens tournament instead.

"Our message remains there is time but time is ticking. They (Rio organisers) need to carry on attacking this one with all vigour," IOC spokesman Mark Adams told reporters.

Brazil is also hosting the 2014 World Cup and organisers for that event have also been urged to speed up preparations by world soccer's governing body FIFA.

Adams said the IOC Executive Board also asked organisers about the state of the country's economy with new figures showing lower than expected growth.

Brazil's economy posted extremely disappointing growth in the third quarter, piling pressure on President Dilma Rousseff to make deeper structural reforms and adding to fears that the global slowdown is hurting big emerging markets.

The economy grew just 0.6 percent from the second quarter, government statistics agency IBGE said on Friday.

Rio, which was awarded the Games in 2009, is the first South American city to be picked to host the Olympics.

"Everything is on the way and on time," Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman told reporters after his presentation to the IOC.

"The budget will be ready next year. We are in a comfortable, good situation. We are in a very good road."

Nuzman also praised a decision by Rousseff to veto parts of a controversial royalties bill that pits Brazil's oil-producing states against the rest of the country in a battle over future oil wealth.

Seeking a compromise on perhaps the most divisive issues to arise during her nearly two-year-old presidency, Rousseff vetoed clauses that would slash income for Brazil's main oil states, including Rio de Janeiro.

"We have a fantastic decision from our president," Nuzman told reporters. "It gives Rio the recognition of the rights it has."



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National Olympic Committees participate in the 1st Rio 2016™ Official Meeting


The Rio 2016™ Olympic and Paralympic Games Organising Committee hosts this week the 1st Rio 2016™ NOC Open Day (1st Official Rio 2016 Official Meeting with the National Olympic Committees). Organised by the functional area of the NOC Services, the meeting began on Monday with representatives from all continents: Australia, Canada, Taiwan, Czech Republic, Iran, Japan, Russia, Santa Lucia, Serb Republic, South Africa and Brazil.

During this period, the objective of Rio 2016™ is to present the National Olympic Committees with an overview of the Rio de Janeiro Games, show the progress made to date by the organisation, and offer inspection visits to the competition and Olympic Village sites.

“This is a significant stage in our cooperation between the Rio 2016 Games Organising Committee and the National Olympic Committees. We are working so that this first meeting might be helpful to the committees in their initial planning. In the end, we hope that we will have made great steps in realising another edition in the best way possible of the world´s largest sporting event, presented for the first time in South America”, said Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the Rio 2016™ Organising Committee.

This Monday morning the 3rd, around 30 members from the Committees participated in the presentations on the areas of Sports, Olympic Village, Accommodation, Transport and Security. In the afternoon, they visited the venues located in the Copacabana region, which will host the Rio 2016™ Games competitions, like the Glória Marina, Flamengo Park, Copacabana Beach where the beach volleyball arena will be built, Copacabana Fort and the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon. For Tuesday, a visit to sports venues located in Deodoro, Maracanã and Barra da Tijuca is planned

Rio 2016

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Wasn't sure where to post this, and it's not particularly Olympic relat5ed, but the Brazilians I'm sure will find this significant:

Oscar Niemeyer Dies at 104; Designed U.N. Building, Brazilian Capital

Oscar Niemeyer, the Brazilian architect who designed the United Nations building and his country's futuristic capital of Brasília, died on Wednesday in a hospital in Rio de Janeiro. He was 104.

Mr. Niemeyer became one of the 20th century's most important architects by infusing modernism with the tropical sensibilities of his native Brazil. He also attracted fierce critics—including many people who worked in his Brazilian buildings and found them unsuitably hot for the climate.

Mr. Niemeyer was also regarded as a visionary for adding reinforced-concrete curves to the right angles of formal modernism. In 1988, he won architecture's top honor, the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

He will be best remembered as the chief architect of buildings in Brazil's futuristic capital, Brasília, built from scratch in the country's uninhabited interior plains in the late 1950s. An airy cathedral resembling an upturned shuttlecock and a National Congress building seemingly topped by giant milk saucers turned the city into an otherworldly sculpture garden. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization named it a world heritage site in 1987.

Mr. Niemeyer designed the U.N.'s New York headquarters in the late 1940s, with French modernist Le Corbusier—Charles-Édouard Jeanneret—who became a key influence on Mr. Niemeyer after visiting Brazil in the 1930s.

Mr. Niemeyer often said his greatest inspiration was the undulating landscape of his birthplace, Rio de Janeiro. He used reinforced concrete to trace lines he saw in Rio's sloping hills and its scalloped beaches.

"I am attracted to free-flowing sensual curves," he wrote in his memoir, "The Curves of Time." "The curves that I find in the mountains of my country, the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean and on the body of the beloved woman."

Rio influenced more than his art. A bon vivant who often proclaimed his zest for the company of women, Mr. Niemeyer was said to have embodied the city's bohemian spirit.

An active, lifelong communist, he rued the fall of the Soviet Union and befriended Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Mr. Niemeyer's political leanings meant he was denied visas to take prestigious U.S. teaching jobs during his career.

Mr. Niemeyer said the buildings he designed for Brasília were meant to evoke a more egalitarian future. He gave them the illusion of floating by employing reflecting pools and narrow columns set back from building facades.

In practice, Brasília isn't an egalitarian city. Government buildings are set apart at an inhuman scale. It is virtually impossible for a worker to walk between destinations in the blazing, treeless landscape. The city's architecture is better enjoyed from an air-conditioned limousine.

Mr. Niemeyer worked from a studio overlooking Copacabana beach in Rio. In his 90s, he designed projects for Brazilian beach city Niterói. In 2012 he was present for the inauguration of additions to Rio de Janeiro's "Sambadrome" Carnaval stadium.

Mr. Niemeyer's apartment, its walls covered in political posters and sketches of women, was an important destination for the international architects he was famous for warmly welcoming in to exchange ideas.

Alfredo Brillembourg, an architect and Columbia University professor, visited Mr. Niemeyer there in 2009. Mr. Niemeyer was more enthusiastic about recent projects than those of his formative years, Mr. Brillembourg said.

"Normally all architectural critique is viewed from the West. However, Niemeyer's work obliges us to reverse this flow and understand Brazil as a new global cultural center," Mr. Brillembourg said.

Mr. Niemeyer was born to an upper-class Rio family in 1907, one of six children. By his own account, he enjoyed a carefree youth that revolved around soccer and late nights at Rio's beer parlors that often ended in its red-light district.

He enrolled in the city's fine arts academy at the age of 21, and studied under Lúcio Costa, beginning a yearslong collaboration with the prominent Brazilian architect and urban planner. Mr. Niemeyer later took an unpaid job in Mr. Costa's studio.

In 1936, Le Corbusier arrived in Rio to give a series of lectures. Messrs. Niemeyer and Costa worked with him to design a new Ministry of Health and Education, now a Rio landmark. That project was a turning point for Mr. Niemeyer.

He started to grab international attention after designing the Brazil pavilion for the 1939 New York World's Fair.

During these years, Mr. Niemeyer made an important connection—Juscelino Kubitschek, an up-and-coming politician who later became one of Brazil's most important democratically elected presidents. As a local leader in the state of Minas Gerais, Mr. Kubitschek tapped Mr. Niemeyer to build a lakefront casino, a church and other buildings in the city of Belo Horizonte.

After Mr. Kubitschek became president in 1955, he asked Mr. Niemeyer to design the buildings for Brasília, the new national capital he envisioned in Brazil's sparsely populated interior. The city was built from scratch, at blinding speed, in an airplane-like layout prepared by Mr. Costa.

In 1947 Mr. Niemeyer and Le Corbusier jointly designed the U.N. building in New York. Later in life, Mr. Niemeyer said he had succumbed to pressure from Le Corbusier to include the larger-than-life French master's ideas in a project that was originally solely his.

He was married for three-quarters of a century to his wife, Annita, and they had one daughter; both predeceased Mr. Niemeyer. In 2006, he was married again, this time to a longtime personal assistant.

Wall St Journal

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Big news here indeed. He was some sort of national hero for quite some people and his work still looks fresh despite his magnum opus, Brasília, being 52 years old. Not many people outside Brazil (or maybe even here) know Niemeyer proposed a design for Maracanã Stadium back in the 40's. Here it is:



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Big news here indeed. He was some sort of national hero for quite some people and his work still looks fresh despite his magnum opus, Brasília, being 52 years old. Not many people outside Brazil (or maybe even here) know Niemeyer proposed a design for Maracanã Stadium back in the 40's. Here it is:



That arched Maracana design sure looks ahead of its time!

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The Brasilia Cathedral was part of the ill-fated Brasilia 2000 logo


And if you fancy achitecture, here is a slideshow of his most famous works around Brasília. You'll notice the concrete on the University of Brasília buildings is not that clean anymore but most sites are pretty well preserved http://g1.globo.com/distrito-federal/fotos/2012/12/traco-do-arquiteto-obras-de-niemeyer-em-brasilia.html#F549633

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Construction On Trump Towers Rio To Begin Soon

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Rio de Janeiro is getting its own Trump Towers.

A consortium headed by the Trump Organization says construction on the first two of five planned towers will begin in the second half of next year.

The 38-floor towers will go up in Rio's dilapidated port zone, which is currently undergoing a massive facelift as part of a bid to turn it into a business hub.

The two first towers are expected to be finished ahead of the 2016 Olympic games, which Rio is hosting. The timetable for construction of the other three towers will depend on the market, officials behind on the project told journalists at a news conference Tuesday.

The consortium also includes Brazilian construction company Even. It did not reveal the size of the investment.



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Rio 2016 launches major recruitment drive

January 2 - Rio 2016 are to start a major recruitment drive and plan to hire up to 250 people this year, they have announced.

By the end of 2012, Rio 2016 had 371 employees, a 61 per cent increase compared to the end of 2011.

In the coming year, a 60 per cent headcount increase is expected until the end of July, an increase of 224, coinciding with a move to new offices in the centre of the city.

It is estimated that 4,000 people will be working for Rio 2016 by the time the Games open.

"Preparing the Olympic Games requires work in many different areas," said Henrique Gonzalez, the Rio 2016 human resources director.

"At the moment, there are 72 job openings on the Games website and, at the turn of the year, another 90 will be available once we move to our new headquarters in the central region of the city."

There are currently openings in the areas of architecture, commercial, communications, engineering, sports, finances, journalism, juridical, licensing, logistics, marketing, projects, human resources, medical services, procurement, sustainability, technology and transport.

Rio 2016 already employ people from Canada, Cuba, the United States, France, Italy, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

All available positions will published on the official website.


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Rio slums: From no-go to must-buy

By JENNY BARCHFIELD, Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Five years ago, Rio de Janeiro's "favela" hillside slums had such a bad rap that they were virtual no-go zones, where drug lords laid down the law and outsiders set foot at their peril.

But since 2011, police have seized control of dozens of favelas from drug gangs, and things have changed so dramatically that some of the slums are now seen as hot real estate investments — so hot, in fact, that two Europeans recently locked horns in a legal battle over a battered favela house.

Rio's slum "pacification" program is part of a strategy to make the city safe ahead of the 2014 soccer World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Murder rates are down, and SecoviRio, an organization representing Rio's real estate professionals, estimates that in the 72 hours after police took the first three favelas, property prices there jumped by 50 percent — and are still climbing.

In the Vidigal slum, middle-class Brazilians and foreigners who can't afford chic Rio neighborhoods are snapping up properties wedged between tony beachfront areas like Copacabana and Ipanema.

"It used to be you'd say the word 'favela' and people would instantly think: drug trafficking, machine guns, grenades, kidnappings," said Anderson Ramos, a real estate agent with V.D.G. Imobiliaria, Vidigal's first real estate agency. "But now, you say 'favela' and they think pacification and good deals on houses."

"We're seeing upper-class people, millionaires, famous musicians practically queuing up."

Andreas Wielend, one of the two Europeans fighting over a Vidigal property, got a killer deal when he bought an abandoned cinderblock house from a German businessman in late 2009. The deal was so sweet the owner had seller's remorse. When Wielend was away on vacation last fall, the former owner took over the house and changed the locks.

"It was unbelievable," Wielend said. "This house was my baby, I worked so hard to renovate it, and then I'm kicked out on false pretenses. It was surreal."

The sparring foreigners are part of growing group of wealthy buyers keen on acquiring ocean-view properties in Vidigal that are seen as bargains in a city whose real estate prices are among the highest in the Americas.

"I hate to use the word fashion, but the favelas are in fashion, for the first time," said Leonardo Schneider, SecoviRio's vice president.

Built in the late 19th century by army veterans seeking affordable housing, the first favelas sprang up unplanned, and many still lack basic services like sewage connections and electricity. For generations, they were home to destitute migrants, and in the 1970s began falling under the control of ruthless drug gangs.

When Wielend bought his place, it had long been abandoned and lacked a bathroom, kitchen and even doors. But it had a breathtaking view over Rio's concrete jungle and the Atlantic Ocean. The German seller, who had snapped up dozens of properties in Vidigal, was asking for just 20,000 reals, or $10,000.

Still, with a gang capo and his heavily armed minions for neighbors, Wielend thought hard before buying.

"It was a bit like signing up to living in 'Robinson Crusoe,' on a remote island where everything's sort of makeshift," said the 35-year-old, a telecommunications engineer who first came to Brazil with Siemens, the German electronics giant. "I thought of the investment as a big gamble."

Then came the big change. Hundreds of police stormed into Vidigal, pushing out the drug gang and establishing a permanent presence. To date, 28 police pacification units have been established over dozens of favelas, with 12 more units expected this year.

Studies show homicides are down by double digits. A luxury boutique hotel with a rooftop pool is going up in Vidigal, and Italian tire-maker Pirelli shot part of its 2013 pinup calendar in Dona Marta, which in 2008 was the first favela to be pacified.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reckons that 15 percent of the 168 percent rise in Rio property prices between January 2008 and March 2012 was directly attributable to pacification and the resulting drop in crime.

Ramos, the agent, said he recently closed a slew of $25,000 deals on small cinderblock homes that wouldn't have fetched $5,000 a few years ago.

"People here have understood that favelas are a hot thing, and a lot of people are eager to cash in," said Ramos. "And for a guy here, who for the price of his tiny studio apartment in Vidigal he can buy a big, three-bedroom house with a garage and a patio in another area of Rio, it's like a dream come true."

Not everyone sees the situation in such a rosy light. Many voice worries that the poor could be priced out of the slums as their cost of living rises and developers pressure them to sell.

SecoviRio's Schneider acknowledged that the city's demographics may change. About a quarter of Rio's 6 million people live in the 1,071 favelas.

"In the coming 10-15 years, rich people are going to be buying houses and developers are going to be building condominiums in certain favelas that are well located, with views," said Schneider. "Naturally, the poor people will move to another area and certain favelas, like Vidigal, are going to be transformed into luxury neighborhoods."

Wielend, meanwhile, won a court ruling ordering his property returned to him. He said he plans to spruce the place up again and reopen the hostel and party space he was running there.

Or maybe he'll sell; he says he has been offered $300,000 — 30 times what he paid — but won't settle for less than $750,000.

"That might sound like a lot, but it might actually end up being a bargain," said Wielend, his green eyes twinkling as he gazed at the ocean from the cracked and graffiti-scrawled terrace. "Who knows, maybe in 10 years this will end up being the most valuable property in all of Rio de Janeiro."


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The Brasilia Cathedral was part of the ill-fated Brasilia 2000 logo


And if you fancy achitecture, here is a slideshow of his most famous works around Brasília. You'll notice the concrete on the University of Brasília buildings is not that clean anymore but most sites are pretty well preserved http://g1.globo.com/distrito-federal/fotos/2012/12/traco-do-arquiteto-obras-de-niemeyer-em-brasilia.html#F549633

Now, that's a nice and classic logo. One stylized rendering of a famous architectural landmark of the city, the 5 rings and the simple "Brasilia 2000." Clean and simple.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Rio de Janeiro puts QR codes in pavements


Rio de Janeiro has embedded QR codes into the pavement, with the aim of providing tourists with information about the city.

The QR codes, which were installed on Friday 25 January, can be scanned by visitors to find information in Portuguese, Spanish or

English, as well as providing a map of the area.

According to the Telegraph, Rio de Janeiro hopes to install 30 of these QR codes throughout various beaches and sites of historic value, with the aim of helping out tourists.

This comes after Alex Balfour, head of new media at the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), warned Rio in September to ‘sort out its app strategy’ for the 2016 Olympic Games, claiming a lack of use of location-based

social media services such as Foursquare and Facebook Places as a failing of London 2012.


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