The Deodoro Olympic Whitewater Stadium that hosted canoe slalom at last summer’s Games has become the first Rio 2016 venue to be re-opened as a legacy for the local population.
Jose Perurena, President of the International Canoe Federation (ICF), told insidethegames that the venue opened its gates to the public last weekend to offer free swimming, and the response was enormous.
“Last week the slalom venue in Rio opened for legacy purposes,” he said from Pau, where the ICF World Canoe Slalom and Wildwater Championships are underway.
“The lake is now open to the local population, and more than 4000 people visited last weekend to swim, including 1000 older people.
“It is the first venue in Rio to provide this activity.
“For 3-4 hours In the morning the site is used for canoe slalom training, and later in the day people can swim there.
“The wider venue also contains sites for BMX cycling and sport climbing, and all this is under the administration of the Rio Canoe Federation.
“I am very happy about this, and the fact that the site offers such a variety of free activities to the local people from what is not a wealthy area.
“This is a great example of Olympic legacy – it is a radical use of the site at the Deodoro.
“And the elite canoe use for the site will continue next year when the ICF World Championships will be held at the venue.”
Creating a permanent canoe slalom venue has often proved to be one of the most expensive facilities required for the Olympics with the Lee Valley White Water Centre, which hosted competition at London 2012, costing around £31 million ($41.5 million/€35.2 million) to build.
The venue opened again to the public after the Games as part of the Olympic Legacy Works.
Spectator seating was removed and the venue returned to providing a leisure attraction for canoeing and white-water rafting and a competition venue for elite events, including the 2015 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships.
A £6.3 million ($8.5 million/€7.15 million) redevelopment project was completed in February 2014 leading to the creation of new visitor facilities and new offices and training base for the GB Canoe Slalom team.
Perurena believes the Lee Valley facility has had “a big impact”, adding: “We have demonstrated that it is one of the best legacies from London 2012; it is a venue in full swing, reaching the highest technical standards and operational standards within a clear operating budget.”