September 8 - Rio de Janeiro, the hosts of the next Summer Olympics and Paralympics, have secured another of the major sporting events on the calendar as the Brazilian city was today unveiled here as the location of the 2013 and 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards.
The Laureus World Sports Awards is widely recognised as the premier international sporting honours event on the planet with previous recipients including superstars such as Usain Bolt, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Michael Schumacher, Cathy Freeman, Dame Kelly Holmes and Serena Williams.
The 2013 and 2014 Awards will be attended by some of the greatest names in sport and will be broadcast worldwide, giving Rio an early opportunity to showcase itself internationally ahead of the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where several matches will be hosted, and the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics.
The announcement was made at Casa Brasil by Laureus World Sports Academy chairman Edwin Moses and Governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro Sérgio Cabral.
This symbolises another passing of the baton from London to Rio after London, the host city of this summer's Olympics and Paralympics, staged the glittering 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards earlier this year.
"The city of Rio de Janeiro is very proud to receive Laureus in 2013 and 2014," said Cabral, in front of an audience at Casa Brasil that included Rio 2016 President Carlos Arthur and Rio's State Secretary of Sport and Leisure Marcia Lins.
"This extraordinary Awards event, that brings together great legends of world sport, will be held for the first time in the southern hemisphere.
"The Laureus World Sports Awards comes to further enhance the extensive calendar of international events that Rio will host in the coming years, like the World Judo Championship, the FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics.
"For us, this agenda goes beyond the sports realm and becomes a great tool for social inclusion.
"With that thought in mind, we created the Rio 2016 programme, which is present in 74 cities of our state and offers 52 sports disciplines, benefiting more than 230,000 children and adolescents.
"Therefore, for Rio's Government, hosting an event like Laureus – which also has social projects involving sport – is paramount for building the social legacy we will leave to our population."
The 2013 and 2014 Ceremonies will take place at the famous Municipal Theatre, a venue that has hosted major events such as the recent United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and Rio +20.
It was also the venue for the speech of United States President Barack Obama on his visit to Brazil.
"I am thrilled that the 2013 and 2014 Laureus Awards is to be staged in Rio de Janeiro," said Moses, the double 400 metre hurdles Olympic champion.
"Brazil is one of the most exciting and flamboyant nations on Earth and Rio will become the centre of the sporting world over the next few years as it builds up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
"I know sport is a passion for everyone in Brazil and it is great for Laureus that we are able to go to Rio for the Awards and be part of the celebrations there."
Award winners are ultimately selected by the 47 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy which include sporting greats such as Franz Beckenbauer, Sebastian Coe, Nadia Comaneci, Michael Johnson and Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson.
Following the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, the athletes and teams who starred at the Games such as Bolt, Michael Phelps, Jessica Ennis, David Weir and the US basketball "Dream Team" are likely to be leading contenders for the prestigious 2013 awards.
"Everyone in Brazil is hoping that the next few years are very special for our country and I am delighted that we at Laureus can be part of that," said Brazil's double Formula One World champion and Laureus World Sports Academy member Emerson Fittipaldi.
"I know that everyone who comes to the Awards will get a flavour of the excitement to come.
"But, of course, Laureus is much more than an Awards Ceremony.
"As our Patron Nelson Mandela has said 'sport has the power to change the world and change people's lives' and we will be sending a message from Rio around the world to show how sport can make a difference to the lives of every one of us."
The 2012 awards in London saw Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic and Kenyan long-distance runner Vivian Cheruiyot take the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year prizes respectively with Barcelona FC taking the team prize.
Rory McIlroy received the breakthrough award, Darren Clarke the comeback accolade, Oscar Pistorius the disability trophy and Kelly Slater the action sportsperson prize.
In addition, there was a lifetime achievement prize for Laureus World Sports Academy member Sir Bobby Robson.
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February 2012: Djokovic and Cheruiyot claim top prizes at 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards in London