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Pres. Lula Scores Coup by Winning 2016 Olympics Bid

Posted October. 05, 2009 08:20,   


When Rio de Janeiro was announced the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics Saturday, Brazilians jumped for joy and cheered in a Carnival-like party.

At the Copacabana beach, in Rio de Janeiro, which is considered one of the world’s three most beautiful ports, some 100,000 people shouted in celebration while looking at the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Mount Corcovado.

Rio will be the first Latin American city to host the Olympics since the launch of the International Olympic Committee 122 years ago. Brazil, which hosted the 2007 Pan-American Games, has emerged as the global sporting mecca through its hosting of the world`s two biggest sporting events -- the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

When Rio began its bid for the Olympics two years ago, the city got little attention. Brazil’s economic prowess in Latin America and Brazil`s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s international reputation, however, won over members of the IOC, media reports in Brazil said.

President Lula began his speech to the committee with his economy. “Our economy got out of the economic downturn in the second quarter of the year and will grow more than one percent this year. In addition, we’ve lifted 30 million people out of poverty over the past several years.”

“As a member of the G20, I have represented the interests of developing countries.”

Brazil’s economy has indeed seen robust growth despite the global economic crisis. Foreign reserves have risen from 74 billion dollars three years ago to a record 223 billion dollars.

The benchmark stock index Bovespa plummeted 41 percent last year, but rebounded 63 percent this year. In addition, the Brazilian currency real soared 29 percent against the dollar this year.

Against this backdrop, Brazil’s economy is forecast to grow five percent next year.

Brazil turned the tide at the IOC`s executive board meeting in Berlin in August by announcing a massive investment plan. Brazil agreed to pay 210 million dollars for the Olympic broadcast rights, double the amount suggested by the United States and Japan.

Using Brazil’s economic power as his arsenal, Lula focused on differentiating his country’s bid from those of Spain and Japan, both of which have hosted the Summer Olympics before, and four-time Olympics host U.S.

He said, “It’s time to address this imbalance. The opportunity is now to extend the Olympic Games to a new continent.”