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December 29 - Jacques Rogge, the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), today laid the first stone at the site of the Athletes Village in Rio de Janeiro and praised the city's preparations for the 2016 Games.
Various VIPs attended, including sporting figures, Brazil's former FIFA President João Havelange, Rio State Governor Sergio Cabral, Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes and Nawal El Moutawakel, the chair of the IOC's Coordination Commission.
Rogge said he proud of what has been accomplished already in Rio, the first South American city to be chosen to host the Olympics and Paralympics, and paid tribute to the work of Brazilian officials.
Construction of the Olympic Village will officially begin next month and produce buildings to house 17,700 athletes.
"I am glad for I see the preparation for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is going extremely well," said Rogge, who is visiting the city to attend a special New Year's Eve ceremony where the 2016 Olympic logo will be unveiled.
"I would like to thank the support the sports world receives from the Brazilian public authorities, the three levels of Governments – Federal, State and City ones.
"That is what we need."
Located in the Western Zone of the city, next to Riocentro, which is one of the Games competing venues, the Village will provide the athletes the chance of experiencing the "carioca" lifestyle.
During the event, 46 per cent of the athletes will be staying 10 minutes from the competition and training venues and 73 per cent only 25 minutes away, Rio officials claim.
Seventy-five hectares, being 58 used for accommodation area, with 48 12-storey buildings and 2,800 more apartments to house the athletes.
The apartments, of three and four bedrooms, will house eight athletes each.
The parking lots will have the capacity for 1,000 cars.
At the entrance of the complex, the Olympic Plaza will exhibit the traditional 205 participating country flags and will provide commercial centres and other services.
The Carioca Street, about 700 meters long, will reproduce the sidewalks and kiosks of Rio's world famous beaches and will also have cafés, restaurants, juice and ice-cream stores.
The project also includes a training centre, a park and, nearby, the Olympic Village Beach.
The Village will also have a pool, movie theatre, spa, gym and business center, among other options of leisure such as the Barra da Tijuca condos, a neighborhood famous for offering housing complexes of excellent infrastructure.
The apartments will be sold after the event.
Other dignatries that attended the special event included Sandra Pires, the first Brazilian woman to win an Olympic gold medal when she claimed victory in the beach volleyball at Atlanta in 1996, and Carlos Nuzman, the President of Rio 2016.
Nuzman is proud of the speed at which Rio has started preparing for 2016 and made a promise
"We will kick start the beginning of the constructions of the Rio 2016 Village in record time," he said.
"We will have an extraordinary Village; it will be the best and most beautiful in the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games."
Nuzman's enthusiasm was shared by Paes.
"Rio de Janeiro is going through a very special moment and it is not a coincidence that it goes so well," he said.
"There is a huge effort to make the transformations in the city.
"We will meet the deadlines and deliver the works before scheduled time to evaluate with comfort the problems that might come up."
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December 2010: Rio 2016 signs deal for Carvalho Hosken to build Olympic Village