The Naysayers Were Wrong. The Rio Olympics Were an Absolute Success

Rio Olympics closing ceremonies at Maracanã stadium The Olympic Games were an absolute success. This is the result of the work of each person who helped build the stadiums, the metro, the Olympic Village; each carioca who gave the right directions to our visitors.

Each waiter who served their clients quickly and kindly; each driver who did not take a longer route with their passengers; each athlete who showed fair play; and the dedication of volunteers and professionals in all areas, covering all the details involved in hosting the greatest sporting event in the world. Brazil has hosted an extraordinary event, and this is the work of all Brazilian people.

Rio de Janeiro is a unique setting. The beaches, Guanabara Bay, mountains descending into the sea, natural landscapes and the plants chosen by Burle Marx are so beautiful that even Michael Phelps would lose his breath. The naysayers, however, have always included a ‘BUT’ in their predictions, saying that Brazilians would not have the organization skills to host Rio 2016. But they were wrong.

The sports facilities were exceptional. The athletes were brilliant. They broke 19 world records and 65 Olympic records. Brazil won 19 medals – our best result ever in the Games. We took steps to improve even further at the next Games.

Rio Olympics closing ceremonies at Maracanã stadium

Competing is important, because only those who compete win. And we had many athletes in new sports, exceeding our expectations in many of them, which shows how much we have evolved. We will leap towards the future inspired by Thiago Braz, our Olympic record holder at the pole vault.

Or by Isaquias Queiroz, our canoeing hero who won three medals in the same Games. Or the incontestable example of resilience shown by Rafaela Silva, who beat poverty and prejudice with a strike of decency and passion for sport.

There were many such examples of resilience. The Brazilian national football team has finally won the only laurel missing in our immense trophy room. At last, we have won an Olympic gold on Maracanã’s sacred pitch. A team that overcame difficulties, and went from discredited to the Olympus, paving the way for Brazil to grow in other fields too.

We have shown the world the stuff we are made of when our libero Serginho stepped on the court once again, proudly wearing the colors of our national volleyball team. Drive, vigor, enthusiasm, companionship, talent and loyalty are qualities that summarize this role model for future generations of Brazilians. The players did not just beat their opponents – they overcame pain, injury, and their own limitations. Together, they were a spectacular group.

This team spirit is an example of how we should work for Brazil. We will maintain the major projects run by the Ministry of Sport and our sports policy in general so that we can become an Olympic powerhouse in the future.

Brazil has invested 4 billion reais in the National Sports Training Network, which will continue to develop new champions in many sports. We will attract private initiative partners to advance even further. In addition, we will continue working with our Armed Forces to provide opportunities for many Olympic medalists to train and develop.

The Army, the Navy and the Air Force have been the greatest incubators of winners for the Rio Games. In total, 12 military athletes have reached the podiums in Rio 2016.

It was a major victory. And far beyond the competition arenas. At the Olympic Boulevard, on foot or on LRVs, a huge crowd circulated in an area regenerated for the city.

Many foreigners were happy to visit Ipanema, Copacabana, Barra da Tijuca… And 87% of them want to come back. And 98.7% said that their trip fully met their expectations. Carioca hospitality was praised by 92% of Brazilians and 98% of foreign visitors.

Our security operation was praised, as well as our hospitality services, and our local cuisine enchanted all with its richness and flavor.

The closing celebration was exactly that: a joyful celebration of peoples, all together dancing samba in the rain that washed our souls during these unforgettable Olympic Games. Rio de Janeiro has shown the world that Brazil can host the greatest event on Earth with competence, organization and efficiency. Rio has won the world over.

From now on, the federal government will focus its efforts on ensuring that Brazil regains its deserved position in international diplomacy and the world’s economy. We will work hard to overcome all the challenges and limitations imposed on us in the past few years.

We are sure of only one thing: we will win. A huge ‘thank you’ to Rio de Janeiro and to all Brazilians for making Rio 2016 such a wonderful event. Let us continue our work in peace and harmony.

Michel Temer is the acting President of the Republic of Brazil.

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