Rio getting ready for its Olympic turn

A Victoria’s Secret model, a street sweeper and a rap star. It’s

an eclectic trio, and Rio de Janeiro thinks putting them together

will give the world a taste of what to expect at the 2016

Olympics.

Rio gets the Olympic flag at the closing ceremony of the London

Games on Sunday night, essentially starting the four-year countdown

toward the first time South America will host the games. Rio

organizers will use 250 dancers and musicians in an eight-minute

portion of London’s farewell for a performance designed to

illustrate ”multicultural embrace.”

”I know eight minutes is small time,” said Daniela Thomas, one

of the art directors for Rio’s role in Sunday’s closing. ”But we

want to show you how sophisticated we mix things, what we do with

the things you believe we are, how we mix with pop culture. So I

think it’ll be the cliches reinvented, hopefully.”

They summoned model Alessandra Ambrosio – perhaps best known for

her Victoria’s Secret work – to help the cause, along with rapper

Bnegao and a Rio employee named Renato Sorriso, who once stopped

sweeping the avenue between samba schools during Carnival and

started dancing instead, fast becoming a fan favorite. He’s been

part of Carnival ever since.

The way Rio sees it, the mix of people, music and dance will

speak to how diverse the city believes it is, and what people will

see in four years.

”Embrace is the attitude that the games in Rio will have,”

said Marco Balich, the executive producer of Rio’s portion of the

show Sunday. ”Embrace the world.”

When the world comes, Rio insists it will be ready.

Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes praised London on Friday for

an ”outstanding” Olympics, thanking London Mayor Boris Johnson

and other officials for their willingness to share information and

advice on the logistical side of hosting the 17-day sporting

spectacle.

Rio organizing committee CEO Leonardo Gryner said again that all

construction of venues will be done on time, and in time for

pre-Olympic test events to be held in 2015.

”I will say that the games in London have been very inspiring

to us,” Gryner said. ”The high-quality of the preparation that

London put together to deliver these games is really

inspiring.”

Gryner also lauded London for what he called a ”very

successful” ticketing program, even though one of the major

talking points during the opening days of this Olympics was how so

many venues had so many empty seats.

”For every organizing committee, it is a challenge to deal with

empty seats because you have to deal with those customers that for

one reason or another won’t show up for the event or use their

tickets,” Gryner said. ”And we have to come with creative ideas

with how to overcome this. … And the coming city in 2020 will do

even better than we will do in 2016.”

Another issue during the London Games was how the city – not the

venues, necessarily, but the city itself – may not have seen as

many people as some anticipated. Some restaurant owners said sales

were well below expected levels and a number of taxi drivers

complained that too few people were in their cars.

Gryner said he thinks Brazilians will embrace what’s coming in

2016.

”That’s the beauty of the Olympics, that in every city and

every country you experience a different culture,” Gryner said.

”Beijing was something different from what we saw in London and

from what we saw in Athens. In Brazil, as you may know, we like a

lot of parties.”

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