Rio Olympics 2016: The greatest sport festivity in the heart of Brazil

General view of the arena where the fencing and taekwondo competitions will be held at the Rio Olympics 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
General view of the arena where the fencing and taekwondo competitions will be held at the Rio Olympics 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. PHOTO: EPA
An aerial view of the X-Park construction site at Deodoro Sports Complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
An aerial view of the X-Park construction site at Deodoro Sports Complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.PHOTO: REUTERS
International Olympic Committee (COI) president Thomas Bach (top) taking part in an event at Barra da Tijuca Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
International Olympic Committee (COI) president Thomas Bach (top) taking part in an event at Barra da Tijuca Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. PHOTO: AFP
Rio de Janeiro's Governor Luiz Fernando Pezao (second, left), Rio de Janeiro's Mayor Eduardo Paes (centre) and Rio 2016 Olympic Games Organising Committee President Carlos Arthur Nuzman (second, right) walking through a tunnel which will connect the
Rio de Janeiro's Governor Luiz Fernando Pezao (second, left), Rio de Janeiro's Mayor Eduardo Paes (centre) and Rio 2016 Olympic Games Organising Committee President Carlos Arthur Nuzman (second, right) walking through a tunnel which will connect the Rio 2016 Olympic Park and the Deodoro Sports Complex. PHOTO: REUTERS

Can you sense the heartbeat accelerating? Can you feel the pulse racing?

Collectively, Brazil's heart and pulse are already beating faster, even though the reason is still a year away.

Brazilians have two passions: Welcoming people from all over the world and competing with enthusiasm and fair play in any superb sporting contest.

The world saw evidence of this during last year's Fifa World Cup and the same thing will happen exactly a year from today. On that day, the Olympic flame will be lit at our magnificent Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro while the historic Olympic flag with the five interlocking rings ushers in a new chapter in sporting history.

Brazil will be the first South American country to host the Olympic Games. It is a fitting accolade for a country with a history of tolerance and diversity and for a nation whose workers, businesspeople, students, scientists and artists have built a vigorous culture of peace and hard work.

Those values in turn shaped our effort to ensure that the 2016 Olympics are the best-ever international sporting event. We achieved this during the Fifa World Cup and we have everything necessary to repeat it at the Rio Olympic Games.

The preparation began with investment in the most important asset of all - our athletes. We allocated funds for our athletes and teams, with such programs as the Athlete Scholarship and the Brazilian Medals Plan.

Our outstanding athletes are a source of inspiration too. The results achieved by Brazil at the last Pan American Games are a concrete example of their drive.

These investments in people and infrastructure will bring far-reaching results, beyond the staging of next year's Olympic Games.

So we must ask ourselves: What will be our greatest legacy from hosting the Games? Without a doubt, this would be twofold - exposing our youth to the pinnacle of international sporting excellence, as well as providing them with a wide range of world-class facilities for the Games and for our future.

We believe that education and sport are our best allies in spreading the ethos of social inclusion and integration.

In this way, we stimulate young people to fight for their goals, to experience the joy of breaking limits, to learn teamwork and understand respect for other competitors.

There was also massive investment in sporting infrastructure as well as the urban restructuring of Rio de Janeiro - our national postcard city and undoubtedly the most beautiful natural landscape for the Olympic Games since Ancient Greece.

Two-thirds of the financial resources allocated to the 2016 Games are for urban infrastructure - a new metro line, a tramway connecting the whole of downtown Rio, and express lanes for buses connecting all competition venues.

We have not stopped at urban transformation. The Rio Harbour area will become a new leisure and culture quarter, which will also cater to the thousands of tourists who visit each year.

The Rio Games also attracted strong investment from the Brazilian private sector. For example, the Barra Olympic Park - the largest concentration of venues - was built to a great extent with private investment.

The Barra precinct will be our future Olympic training centre and it will also enhance sporting cooperation with other countries, especially our neighbours from South America.

The Olympic Village is also being constructed by the private sector, which has already begun to sell these apartments for future use.

The Rio Games will receive one of the highest levels of private investment in the past 20 years of the Olympics.

The Deodoro Sports Complex, one of the competition venues, is located in the middle of a deprived area and because it has the largest concentration of youngsters in Rio, will become a space for locals to practice radical sports.

In total, there are 12 training centres and 261 sport initiation centres, in addition to the 46 official athletics tracks. The overall investment for Rio is US$ 1.2 billion (S$1.65 billion) but it embraces cost efficiency as well as sustainability.

For example, the Future Arena, the handball venue, comprises temporary modules which will be dismantled after the Games and converted into four schools.

Ensuring the smooth operation of this great project has required a joint effort by the local, state and federal governments, as well as the Rio organising committee and the Olympic Public Authority. All parties will remain fully committed until the end of the Paralympic Games in September 2016.

Brazil is fully prepared for the upcoming Games and is ready to proudly show the world the recent accomplishments of a strong and well-functioning democracy committed to reducing social inequalities through economic development and investment.

Most importantly, this is the collective effort of an entire country.

In 2016, do not just yearn to be in Brazil. Come here and enjoy everything that the Olympic Games can give you in Brazil's context of peace, love, joy, and lots of happiness.

We await you with open arms and hearts.

The author is the President of Brazil.