Olympic Flag Arrives in Rio de Janeiro


The Olympic flag landed in Rio de Janeiro in the hands of mayor Eduardo Paes on Monday (August 13), marking the official start of the Brazilian city's preparations for the 2016 Games.

The flag, with its five interlocking rings representing the coming together of the world's inhabited continents, is also a reminder that pressure is mounting in the next Olympic host.

The London Games were widely regarded as a huge organizational success, while Rio has been criticized for construction delays, cost overruns and overburdened airports and roads.

In a joint news conference, Paes, Rio state Governor Sergio Cabral, and the President of the Brazilian Olympic Committee Carlos Arthur Nuzman, put on a united front to assure the world Rio would be ready in four years.

Nuzman said the city would live up to Olympic expectations.

"Brazil is in the global sphere thanks to the victories of the its government and sporting achievements. It's a unique feat in Brazil's history and rare in the history of world sports," he said.

The Olympic flag will be taken to capital Brasilia on Tuesday for a ceremony with President Dilma Rousseff. On Wednesday it will tour Rio's notorious slums and some areas in the city's poor outskirts.

Meanwhile in business capital Sao Paulo, Brazil's women volleyball squad celebrated their Olympic gold medal by parading on a fire truck through the city's streets.

Avid fans cheered and took photos as the country's Olympic heroines drove by the city's main business district to make their way to the government palace.

Brazil survived a shaky start to upset favorites United States against all odds and retain the title they won four years ago in Beijing.

The U.S., ranked number one in the world, handed their opponents a volleyball schooling in the first set, but Brazil, who saved six match points in their quarter-final against Russia, kept their composure to turn the match on its head.

Sao Paulo state governor Geraldo Alckmin awarded the golden squad a medal of honor at a brief ceremony in the government's headquarters.

Brazil coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes, who also won a gold medal leading the men's squad in the past, said his volleyball team made an impressive comeback during the competition.

"Afterwards the team managed to get back on their feet and beat Russia in an epic match -- which will be written in volleyball history and in (the history) of world sports - then there was Japan, then, finally, the big favorites United States. But on that day no team on earth would be able to beat ours," he said.

The Brazilian team arrived in London with little chances of making it to the top of the podium after several changes to the squad that won in Beijing.

Brazil's opposite, Tandara Caixeta, said she believed fans would have more faith in the squad after their amazing victory.

"From now on Brazilians will give us more support, I think we will get more support. I'm sure this group will be united and will work hard together because beyond this victory, we are also hard workers," she said.

Middle blocker, Thaisa Menezes, said she was thrilled with their historic win.

"That match against Russia will go down in history, so I think the feeling is even better than after Beijing. The penny hasn't dropped yet; I'm very happy, but sometimes I still listen to a song and think back on everything we went through and I still cry. But the penny hasn't dropped and I may take awhile to understand what it is like to be two-times Olympic champion," she said.

Brazil won a record number of medals in London with three gold, five silver and nine bronze, ranking 22nd among all competing countries.
Officials said the country would aim to rank among the top ten in 2016.

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