In the Beginning God Created Rio to Hold the Olympics, Says Brazil’s Lula in Beijing

Lula meets Brazilian athletes in Beijing Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, said Friday, August 8, in Beijing that Rio de Janeiro's bid for the 2016 Summer Games carries the ultimate seal of approval. He said, "when God made the world he prepared Rio for the Olympic Games."

The Brazilian southeastern city of Rio de Janeiro has twice bid for the Games and was eliminated in the preliminary stages. It's the first time the city has made it to the short list.

The President said, "we have the firm conviction that we will be the country chosen for 2016. I personally am convinced there is no argument against Brazil's Olympic bid".

Lula said it is time for South America to host the Olympics for the first time. "South America not only needs the Olympics, it deserves the Olympics", he said.

He confirmed that if invited he would travel to Copenhagen to push for Rio's candidacy before the IOC vote, the same as Prime Minister Tony Blair successfully lobbied for London's 2012 bid and former Russian President Vladimir Putin when Sochi was bidding for the 2014 Winter Games.

Lula rebuffed suggestions that the Games would be too much of a financial burden for a developing country like Brazil, especially just two years after the World Cup.

He said, "we do not accept the idea of a prejudice that it is too expensive to hold an Olympic Games. We don't have to know how much we will have to spend. We have to know how much we will gain. We should see the Olympic Games as an investment. Brazil deserves this opportunity."

Standing next to Rio's governor, Sérgio Cabral, and Brazil's Sport minister, Orlando Silva, Lula said that Brazil has shown after holding the Pan American games that it is able to stage large sport events.

"I'm sure that some people who came to China a few years ago would say that they did not have the conditions to hold the Olympics. Then you arrive in China and realize the economic change, the change in the city, the change in the structure. And I am convinced that, the way things are going in Brazil, we will be more than ready to stage the 2016 Olympics of 2016," said the president.

Lula's China campaign in favor of Rio de Janeiro has already started. During his meeting with the president of China, Hu Jintao, and the chairman of the National People's Congress, Wu Bangguo, Lula asked for China's support to the Rio candidacy and was optimistic when he left the meeting.

"I left with the feeling that we are going to have the support from China," Lula told journalists. "There is an understanding from both president Hu Jintao and chairman Wu, who is the president of the parliament, that South America never had their own Olympics," he stressed.

Lula refused to risk any bet on how many medals the Brazilian athletes are going to win. According to him, just getting a place to participate in the games is already a victory for the Brazilians who made it to Beijing.

"I told the athletes there in Brazil that when you go to the Olympic Games you have to take into consideration that to get here each one has already given the maximum of himself. To win a gold, silver or bronze medal, is just a consequence. What's important is that every one goes to bed at night with the clear conscience that he has done the best he possibly could."

Jersey Controversy

Brazil won't be wearing its official Nike uniform for the rest of the Olympic Games because it could affect Rio de Janeiro's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics Games, said the country's soccer confederation Saturday.

According to International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules, nations should not wear confederations' emblems on uniforms during the Olympic Games, and Brazil's Nike jersey has the soccer confederation badge on it, reports the Associated Press.

The confederation said in a statement, "the president of the Brazilian (soccer) confederation, Ricardo Teixeira, accepted the Brazilian Olympic Committee's request that the Olympic team did not wear the official jersey because it would blemish Brazils' bid to host the 2016 Olympics". Brazil will still wear a Nike jersey, but without the confederation's badge.

The statement said Teixeira decided to accept the committee's request to avoid any embarrassment or inconvenience to the city's bid for 2016.

Brazil's players complained Saturday after being told they would play the rest of the games without their traditional badge on their shirts, reports Reuters.

One player said it was "a load of messing around. It's a pain to play without the symbol on the shirt because it imposes respect. We're five times champions of the world and we carry that on our chest. But it's a political matter and something which the players don't need to get involved in."



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