The New Year celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, should draw more than two million people to Copacabana Beach, the local government estimates. The theme of the festival is “Olympic City”, a reference to the Olympic and Paralympic Games which will take place between August and September 2016 in the city. The centenary of the samba will also be celebrated.
The year 2016 is referred to as the year that will be “here to stay”, local government banners and posters in the decorations around the city read.
“We’re sure this time will mark the beginning of a very special stage for our city,” said mayor Eduardo Paes, who inspected the setup work on the main stage for the festival in front of Copacabana Palace Hotel.
The coming year will be greeted with green, purple, and orange fireworks, a display that is expected to last 16 minutes. Designed by Pirotecnia Igual Brasil, the show will pay a spectacular tribute to race mingling and the Olympic spirit. At the end, the Copacabana sky will be lit in white at the beat of 2,000 drums as a message of peace.
For the singer-songwriter Gabriel Moura, who will open the concert program on the main stage, being in the show is a tremendous responsibility. “People from all over the world will be here on the 31st expecting us artists to raise the vibe with them – conveying happiness, love, joy. I’ve prepared a concert with songs that talk about Rio de Janeiro,” he told reporters.
The Local Tourist Board (RIOTUR) expects 857,000 visitors to flock to the city for the New Year celebrations and contribute nearly US$ 700 million into the local economy.
Tourists from Australia, Canada, the United States, and Japan who come to Brazil between June 1st and September 18, 2016 will not be required to hold visas. The waiver will be valid for 90 days, counted as of the date of entry in Brazil.
The Ministry of Tourism reported that the choice of countries that would benefit from visa exemptions in the context of the Olympic and Paralympic Games was based on such factors as the high outbound international flow and positive experience with visitors to Brazil, traveler spending in Brazil, Olympic tradition, and low migration and security risk.
Brazil expects to welcome 20% more nationals from these countries in the period.
In November, President Dilma Rousseff had sanctioned a law exempting foreign tourists who visit Brazil during the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics from holding visas. The decree published December 30 outlines the details of the exemption.
Brazil has mutual visa waiver agreements in place with more than 70 countries.
Brazil’s Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira welcomed a cooperation proposal from the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France, Laurent Fabius, ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics. During a visit to Brazil, he offered support to ensure security and prevent terrorist attacks in the Olympics.
Fabius said France offered to cooperate through the French intelligence service, by sharing both the outcome of the measures enforced by France and exchanging information with a view to mitigating the risk of attacks in Brazil during the Games.
“I told President Dilma Rousseff we are ready to help. Unfortunately what happened in Paris could happen in other countries as well, because of the terrorist groups’ global connections,” the French minister noted.
Some 38.000 military personnel from Brazil’s Army, Navy, and Air Force are expected to tighten up security for the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics. In the host city of Rio de Janeiro, 20.000 men will be deployed, in addition to another 18.000 in Brasília, Belo Horizonte, Manaus, Salvador, and São Paulo, where football matches are scheduled to take place.
Overall, the operation is estimated to cost approximately US$ 165 million – lower than the 2014 World Cup’s US$ 201 million as some of the structures built for the latter will be reused.
Over 15.000 athletes from 205 countries are expected to participate in the Games, slated to begin in August 2016. Close to 100 foreign authorities should pay the country a visit during the sporting event.
“The Ministry of Defense is in charge of the security of the air and sea space, as well as anti-terrorist plans and the control of strategic structures, such as energy, transmission towers, and cyber security,” explained the head of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces, General José Carlos De Nardi. Patrolling the streets falls under the responsibility of the Military Police.
The Armed Forces will be engaged in the security scheme for 65 disciplines, 44 test events, and four ceremonies. Also expected is the surveillance of the Olympic torch through 300 Brazilian cities, starting on May 3, 2016, and scheduled to last 100 days.
General De Nardi says he does not rule out the possibility of a terrorist attack during the Games. “My biggest concern is lone-wolf strikes [individual action]. Not even the United States can intercept those,” he argued, and went on to describe the need for collaboration between the Federal Police, Interpol, and the security forces from other countries as key to the success of the Games.