In 2009, the IOC decided it was time for the Olympics to branch out and hit up a new continent, and Rio got the honor of being named South America’s first Olympic host city.
Rio being chosen was a way to inject some oomph into the local economy, as the Games requires a lot of new infrastructure–roads, public transport and all kinds of permanent and temporary venues in the four main areas where the events will take place, Barra, Copacabana, Deodoro and Maracanã.
But often times, branching out and choosing a new host city (not to mention continent) can have its risks, and Rio’s been in the news with stories about corruption, political upheaval, a lousy economy, unfinished venues, problems with pollution in the waters where some athletes are scheduled to compete, and a nasty mosquito-borne illness called Zika. Although Rio had a test drive in global event hosting when it hosted the World Cup in 2014, this might prove to be a different kind of test, with unknown lingering effects on the country and its people.
Still, at its core, Rio knows how to celebrate, and these Games hope to be a big carnival of sport.
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