Brazilian message: embrace Latin flair, warmth

Street performers dancing along Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.
Street performers dancing along Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.PHOTO: REUTERS

Host city Rio de Janeiro has faced several issues in the lead-up to the Olympic Games but the Brazilian government is confident all will be forgotten once sport takes centre stage next month.

And as the Brazil Ambassador to Singapore Flavio S. Damico stressed yesterday, this is the first Summer Games in South America and it promises to be one filled with Latin flair and warmth.

It is also the second major sporting competition in Brazil this decade, after the football-mad country hosted the 2014 World Cup Finals, but comparisons should not be made between both events.

As of last week, about 1.6 million of the 6 million tickets were unsold for the Aug 5-21 Games.

The recession was a large factor behind the "less enthusiastic" response from locals, Mr Damico said at a press conference with local media at the Brazilian Embassy at United Square.

"But I believe the overall perception that will dominate after the Games will be a very positive one, exactly like the World Cup."

  • 40k
    Number of Brazil's armed forces personnel deployed for the Games.

    1k
    Number of intelligence agents deployed at the Games.

He was also critical of the largely negative coverage from the international media that has focused on the political turmoil, Zika virus, pollution in the bay and safety concerns.

With 45 dignitaries, including heads of state, and an estimated 500,000 tourists attending the Games, security is of the utmost importance, noted Mr Damico.

Besides mobilising 40,000 members of its armed forces, with 3,000 on standby, there are 1,000 intelligence agents from 70 countries deployed to prevent any threats.

"We can feel very calm and tranquil about how the Games will take place," Mr Damico said.

"I am quite positive that we will not see any incidents of significance."

He pointed to Brazil's track record of hosting international events like the 1992 Earth Summit, 2007 Pan American Games and 2012 World Youth Congress as further proof.

He added: "If past experience is a good guide, rest assured that hospitality of Brazilian people and the Cariocas (natives of Rio) will prevail, and the Games will be held in an atmosphere of peace and calmness.

"Brazil is a very warm and welcoming country... we want to showcase our prosperous, thriving and very beautiful country to the world."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2016, with the headline 'Brazilian message: embrace Latin flair, warmth'. Print Edition | Subscribe