Olympic Flag arrives in Rio de Janeiro after handover by London 2012
Tuesday, 14 August 2012
August 14 - The Olympic Flag has arrived in Rio de Janeiro after it was passed from London 2012 to the city, marking the fact that they will be the hosts in 2016.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes waved the five-ringed flag as he and other officials, including Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman, disembarked from the flight that brought them back from London, where they attended the Games' Closing Ceremony on Sunday (August 12).
Paes promised the Games would leave a vast legacy for Rio.
"I see the arrival of this Olympic Flag as not the start, but the consolidation of an important process of transformation for the city of Rio de Janeiro," he said.
"Rio is a city that spent the lion's share of its history, much more time than it should have, looking towards the past.
"I'm sure that this process of transformation, this turning toward the future, has been consolidated here."
Paes said the most important effects of the Olympics "are sometimes, many times, the intangible transformations, the impalpable ones related to the brand of a country, the brand of a city, with the self-esteem of a country."
A handful of demonstrators gathered outside the airport to protest against expulsions connected with Olympic projects and others tied to the FIFA World Cup, which Brazil is hosting in 2014.
The Popular Committee for the World Cup and Olympics, which organised the protest, claims as many as 170,000 people risk being removed from their homes, or already have been removed, due to projects related to the two mega-events.
The group says some 4,000 people living in the so-called Vila Autodromo, where the Olympic Park is to be built, are facing expulsion.
Activists have complained of a lack of consultation between the Government and the affected communities and of low compensation paid out to those kicked out of their homes.
"No-one is going to throw anyone out of anywhere... without there being an alternative," said Paes, who is due to carry the flag through Rio's northern Alemao complex of favelas tomorrow.
"The people will only leave there with lots of consultations, with lots of discussion, with lots of respect."
The flag was also flown briefly to Planalto Palace in Brasilia where Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff posed for pictures with it.
Also on board the plane back from London were Brazilian athletes - some with medals around their necks - who competed in the London Games, which ended in a blaze of music, fireworks and light.
"Arriving in Rio with the flag was a privilege for us, the athletes," said Roberto Scheidt, who won bronze with Bruno Prada in Olympic sailing's Star competition.
"There is room for much improvement [in terms of the number of medals won] here in Rio."
Brazil won a total of 17 medals in London - three gold, five silver and nine bronze.
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