Brazil Gives Farewell Party to Pan Athletes But Nobody Comes

Empty Maracanã for closing ceremonies of Pan American Games "Good but not perfect," that's the way Mario Vazquez Raí±a, president of the Pan American Sports Organization (Odepa), diplomatically summed up the Pan American Games just staged during the last two weeks in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"There's much to do to get the Olympic Games." said Raí±a, adding: "The reality for Rio is that these Pan Am Games open the door for a good bid." The Mexican official was referring to Brazil's dream of hosting the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

"Today, we lived a special day," continued Raí±a. "I want to thank the Brazilian government for all its effort to stage the games. The party was wonderful and you the fans were fantastic. See you in 2016."

The marvelous city, as Rio is known worldwide, said goodbye to the sports extravaganza with plenty of music and fireworks. Brazilians are proud of the games. They not only showed the world they are able to host an international complex competition with no serious glitch or security breach but also demonstrated they are becoming better competitors, getting a total of 161 medals, the best ever in a Pan.

The closing ceremonies held in the Maracanã stadium, a temple to soccer playing, had a mix of Brazilian and Mexican sounds as a reminder that four years from now Guadalajara in Mexico will be hosting the sports event. The rain, however, scared the public and the huge stadium wasn't even half full. It seemed like 60% or more of the seats were empty.

The party started on a sober note with an homage to the 199 fatal victims of Brazil's worst air accident ever, which happened on July 17, just a few days after the start of the games. Firefighters who took part in the bodies rescue entered the stadium carrying the Brazilian flag while the national anthem was played.

Then it was the time for the 41 delegations who too, part in the games to parade through the Maracanã. Among those parading was the reduced Cuban team since many of their athletes had been rushed back to Havana apparently due to fears that there would be a massive defection. Four Cubans defected in Brazil during the Games.

Once again Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who had been repeatedly jeered during the opening ceremonies, was booed even though he decided to skip the farewell party. The booing would happen every time his name or the word president was mentioned by the speakers, which included Rio de Janeiro's governor, Rio's mayor and the Odepa's chief.

To avoid the constant booing, after some time the speakers started to refer to "federal government" instead of mentioning Lula or president.

While the original budget for the games was 500 million reais (US$ 260 million) Brazil ended up spending 3,7 billion reais (US$ 1.92 billion), close to 800% more than anticipated, to build the infrastructure and stage the Pan. Almost half of this money (1.8 billion reais – US$ 940 billion) came from the federal government.

For Brazil it was the best campaign ever in a Pan-American competition, with a grand total of 161 medals: 54 golds, 40 silvers and 67 bronzes. This gave Brazil the third place in the games by the number of medals.

The United States came on top with 97 gold medals, while Cuba ended up in second with 59 golds. Brazilians recognized, however, that they wouldn't have done so well if the US had sent its top athletes instead of the second-rank team they fielded.

The balance seems to be positive for Brazil. Cariocas (Rio's residents) were friendly and enthusiastic mostly during competitions involving Brazilians. There were, however, scalpers and people selling falsified tickets and getting food in some venues was problematic.

On the other hand, transportation, for a change, worked and violence dropped thanks to thousands of federal troops. Hotels are expecting to make an extra 20 million reais (US$ 10.4 million). Street vendors also did quite well , but there were gouging complaints. All of this despite the air transportation chaos in the country.

There were also problems with the new structures build for the games and with an eye to the Olympics bid. The Rock City, for example, which housed the baseball and softball competitions, showed it wasn't ready for prime time. It had roof problems and seats for the public got detached from the floor and ended up inside the court.

Special Mention

The gold medal in unsportsmanship goes to American Chen Wang.  Wang was so mad for having won a bronze medal in table tennis and losing the silver medal to Dominican Xue Wu, this Saturday, July 28, that she threw the flowers she won to the fans and handed out her medal to Victor Borges, an 11-year-old boy who had come to see the game with his parents. Little Victor still can't believe his luck. His parents, however, can't believe how arrogant and disrespectful the athlete was.


  • Show Comments (8)

  • João da Silva

    [quote]”While the original budget for the games was 500 million reais (US$ 260 million) Brazil ended up spending 3,7 billion reais (US$ 1.92 billion), close to 800% more than anticipated”

    Lately you have become sloppy with numbers.The original budget was 400 Million Reais and it came to 3.4 Billions.It is slightly over 800%. Of course you are upset ,because the good folks bought Condos in Miami and not in Geneva.

    Another disinformation you passed on to the vistors of this site (in one of your posts during the week end) was that Lula managed to keep the inflation rate low.I think you better do a more thorough research and come out with the correct figure. My feeling is that the inflation rate is 10% a year,though I have given up researching about it.You know as well as I do that, while calculating the inflation rate, the government manipulates omitting the price increase of many essential products and services.Like they did with the growth rate,last year.

  • forrest Brown

    send a letter
    may self wish you guys would write
    the congress of the US and demand to have them pass a law keeping forgin politicans from buying land or compaines
    and placing grate deal of money in banks in the US and other countries without having a wage and earnings statement
    and a letter from the police fedral saying it is clean

    just think how much miss LULA has rat holed in her new land along with her kids
    could send kids to school , build hospitals , make a good water system

    or repair an airport

  • ch.c.

    “What’s going on? is this becoming political?”
    Ohhhhh nnnnnnoooooo….it is already politicial with their great expertise to make a budget :
    “While the original budget for the games was 500 million reais (US$ 260 million) Brazil ended up spending 3,7 billion reais (US$ 1.92 billion), close to 800% more than anticipated”

    Done…the Brazilian way….as usual !

    Many condos have been bought in Miami and many accounts opened in offshore countries !

    YOU BET ????????

  • João da Silva

    [quote]Brailians can’t stand others winning and the commentators are infantile. John Millers’s comments summed it up quite well!

    Doggy, before JoÀƒ£o Miller, Pinga summed it up and probably you missed his comments. In fact, you,Pinga and me are the biggest winners and Miller spent lots of money to come out with these comments,while we three were watching the events on the TV and sipping some cold ones.

    And Doggy, what do you expect of these commentators? A bunch of stooges who were told to create “EmoÀƒ§Àƒ£o”. A pathetic bunch, just like the jounalists we see on the TV networks every night.

  • doggydaddy

    Brailians can’t stand others winning and the commentators are infantile. John Millers’s comments summed it up quite well!

  • John Miller

    Well Done Rio
    I attended the opening ceremony, and several events at the maria Lenyk swimming stadium, maracanazinho, and the new basketball stadium, plus witnessed the marathon, triathlon and marathon swimming in Copacabana.

    The opening ceremony was excellent, every event seemed to be well organized, the stadiums were excellent, and transport was simply superb, better than at anytime I have been in Rio (For example, it took less than 30 minutes to get to Maracana from Copa for the Opening Ceremony).

    The less than successful points:
    1) The large number of vacant seats at all events – Is this because the sponsors are being given massive number of seats and then not using them? (For example, one day we were told there were no more seats for the basketball, but when we went inside, we found at least 40% of the seats vacant). Or were the seats not reallys sold? Was it a ticketng problem? Or was the pricing too expensive for people to attend(I think it was expensive). Or were most cariocas not interested in going to these events? Or some other problem? I am suspicious here that something was going wrong. Having 1/2 empty stadiums is not good.

    2) The very partisan cheering by Brasilians. It lacks maturity to simply cheer for brasil, and then to activity boo and jeer at competitors from other countries. It is so unsportsmanlike, and really is so childish. I for one am a huge fan of Brasilian athletes, but I also recognise and cheer for the other athletes and there excellence, etc.

    3) The commentators really are very ordinary and lack an appreciattion of the need to tell about other athletes and not just Brasilian athletes.

  • Joõ PInga

    Parabens Rio…
    [quote]While the original budget for the games was 500 million reais (US$ 260 million) Brazil ended up spending 3,7 billion reais[/quote]

    There is no surprise here… Everyone knew this would happen. These events always run over budget…ALWAYS, so an 800% overspending (and pocket-lining) in Brazil was totally expected. I wonder how much went to the À¢€œtraficantesÀ¢€Â to remain so quiet?

    But regardless, congrats to Brazil for a very successful event. I must admit I was expecting more complaints and more problems, so given the few glitches I think it is safe to say that the event was an enormous feather in Brazilˢ۪s cap although few outside of Lain America paid much attention.

    I was really annoyed at the LACK of coverage given by Canada and the US. With Canada it was a little understandable given they were also hosting the FIFA under 20 (and baby sitting the bratty Chilean team) at the same time, but the US that did so well even with second and third rate athletes should have at least feigned some interest to, at the very least, remind Americans that there is a whole continent to the south of them.

    Again Rio, you folks needed a success story and something positive to hold on to, and this was pretty damn good.

    My big complaint was the coverage in Brazil: I hate the school yard Brazilian Sports commentators you folks have. Their screaming and yelling and hissy-fits and fake tears are just plain adolescent and they were only interested in counting gold metals, rooting for other teams to do poorly, and had ZERO analysis of the games, other teams and the competition in general. You could have literally picked any three or four drunken yobbs from the stands to have done a better job. Piss poor coverage for a first class event!

  • propaganda?

    I’m not really understanding why the people come over this blog?magazine? to make such a lame opinion on brazil affairs. Take this article for example and this excerpt from AP.”the 2011 Pan Ams that will be played in Guadalajara. Slowly, the Pan American flame was extinguished in a metal globe erected on the field at Maracana Stadium.It was a gala ending to the hemisphere-wide event, which drew some 5,500 athletes from 42 countries to the July 13-29 games, as well as 2,000 delegation members, 3,000 journalists and 15,000 volunteers.
    À‚«Rio de Janeiro has celebrated the best Pan American Games in history,À‚» said Mario Vazquez Rana, president of the Pan American Sports Organization.”

    What’s going on? is this becoming political?

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