Olympic rings unveiled in Rio de Janeiro

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 04:24 GMT, May 21, 2015 |

A huge model of the Olympics rings, shipped over from England, was unveiled in Madureira Park in the North of Rio de Janeiro yesterday (Wednesday) night, as part of the government’s attempt to integrate the whole city with the Summer Games, which will take place next year. The four-tonne structure, measuring 25 (82 feet) by 12 metres (39 feet), was donated to Rio de Janeiro by the United Kingdom after their having decorated the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle, one of the football host-cities for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Placed above the park’s waterfall, the rings were inaugurated with a fireworks display and speeches by Rio de Janeiro mayor, Eduardo Paes, and President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordinating Committee for the Games, Nawal El Moutakawel.

Paes emphasized the importance of bringing the Olympics to Madureira. It is one of the poorest areas of the city and widely considered the heartland of Rio’s samba schools, an important hub for one of the city’s most prized cultural traditions. Madureira Park has become a new focal point for the area. Inaugurated in 2012, the park receives some 200,000 visitors per month, who come to enjoy its bicycle paths, skating circuits, beach volleyball courts, playgrounds, football pitches, bars, outdoor cinema, and samba stage, amongst other attractions.

The city government presented the park as an example of how investments in the run up to the Olympics are helping to transform the city, though Paes accepted that there is a long way to go. Madureira park will be home to one of three Live Sites organised by the city government during the Games for the public to watch the sporting events on big screens free of charge. The others will be in Porto Maravilha in the centre of the city, and the Miecimo da Silva Sports Centre in Campo Grande in the West Zone.

The first of a long line of Olympic events to unfold in the park attracted hundreds of locals, many who were proud to see their suburbs given prominence as an integral part of the next host city. The 2016 Olympic Games will officialy start on August 5 of next year.