Rio de Janeiro has been the focus of worldwide attention since the 2016 Olympic games officially opened on August 5th. Athletes arrived from all over the world. Their families and friends filled the stands and the after-hour venues. Sport-loving spectators came to experience the physical excellence and the festival atmosphere. Millions more watched from homes far away, cheering on their countrymen and women while learning the athletes’ fascinating back stories.
Do you think that when the games wind down and the international throngs depart, Brazilians will breathe an exhilarated sigh of relief and put away their sports equipment?
It’s unlikely. Brazil’s enthusiasm for sport is renowned. It is the home of football (soccer) superstar Pelé, and winner of five World Cup Championships. The Brazilian national team is the only one to have played in every World Cup tournament.
Football is known as “the beautiful game,” in large part due to the exciting and artistic style of the national team. It is not uncommon for people to skip work to watch the national team play, or for offices to allow employees to watch at work.
Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã Stadium is one of the largest in the world, with current capacity at nearly 79,000 spectators. It will also be the site of the Olympics’ closing ceremony.
Of course, football is not the only sport that inspires Brazilians. Horse racing is popular in Rio and São Paulo. Water sports are enjoyed along the many beautiful beaches, and general fitness is embraced.
Speaking of beaches, the game of “footvolley” may be spotted in the sand, as players in this hybrid game use only their feet to swap possession of a ball over a volleyball net.
In the end, the close of the Olympic games could actually signal an upsurge in local sports, as Brazilians inspired by world class athletes can come out and have their glorious sports venues all to themselves.
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