and the winner (maybe!) is Rio!
I just watched the IOC announcement giving the 2016 Summer Games to Rio de Janeiro. For South America, it’s about time the continent hosted such an event. Rio is an incredible city, and Brazilian culture is infectious. I’m sure the Cariocas (the local term for Rio residents) will put on quite a party. Brazil has its economic problems, but it is an emerging star on the international scene. It’s also an excellent, though imperfect, case study on what a country can do to establish energy independence. Hopefully its innovation will shine at the 2014 World Cup and the first South American Olympics two years later. With hosting the Olympics comes a host of issues: Montreal only recently retired its debt from the 1976 games; Athens is stuck with facilities turned white elephants that are a strain on Greece’s finances; and there is already grumbling in Sochi, the Russian city hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics, that the event will soil the resort’s Black Sea coastline. If you have never been to Rio, I urge you to go. The people are incredibly friendly, the beach culture is alluring, and simple pleasures such as the ubiquitous juice stands are ubiquitous. In some ways, Rio looks as if it is stuck in time: many buildings don’t look like they have been touched since Brazil’s federal government moved to Brasilia in the 1960s. But that is also the retro charm of Rio: if you are a mid-century architecture aficionado and crave a place devoid of American fast-food chains . . . you’ll be in heaven. I just hope the World Cup and Olympics does not deface Rio. The city could benefit from improved infrastructure, public transportation, and environmental clean-up: for every girl in Ipanema there’s an impoverished family living in one of its horrific favelas. Let’s just hope not too much of Rio’s appeal is knocked down in the name of hosting a huge international event. So visit Rio before 2014. You won’t want to leave.
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