Rio Carnival heats up for Olympics

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Rio de Janeiro, Feb 14 (IANS) “The second biggest event in Rio this year is over. Now it’s time to get ready for the biggest,” Rio Olympics organisers sent this message after the 2016 Rio Carnival lowered its curtain.

With less than six months till the Rio Olympics begin, the city embraces Olympics in street parties and Olympians past and present join the parades at the Sambodromo, the home of Rio Carnival.

“Feeling this energy, it makes you excited, the Games are here!” said Brazilian volleyball player Gabi Guimaraes.

She said the celebrations till Saturday were just “a glimpse” of what is to come in August 2016 when Rio hosts the first Olympic Games in South America, Xinhua reported.

At the Sambodromo — which will host the archery and marathon finish during the Games — the Rio 2016 spirit was in full effect as mascots Vinicius and Tom got the celebrations up and running.

As it is the year of the first Latin American Olympics, the Rio Olympics are also the favourite theme of the samba schools.

The samba school presented the theme “Olympic in nature. Everyone is meeting in Rio” on February 7, the first day of the special group carnival competition.

Their procession included dancers clad in ancient Greek-style costumes, a large depiction of the famous Christ the Redeemer statue and athletes from cyclists to acrobatic wheelchair competitors.

During its parade, sport and samba combined from beginning to end. Vanderlei Cordeira de Lima, who won the Pierre de Coubertin medal after finishing third in the Athens 2004 marathon despite being attacked by a spectator while leading, led the way, carrying a replica of the Rio Olympic torch.

The final float was packed with Brazilian Olympic medalists, such as volleyball players Giba, Giovane and Jaque Silva, and swimmer Ricardo Prado, as well as current athletes, including synchronised swimming duet Duda and Luisa and volleyball player Gabi with everyone signing the samba school’s lyrics.

After the carnival, Rio 2016 will stage a further 22 test events to warm up the city for the sporting extravaganza.

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