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It is carnival time in Rio de Janeiro, when thousands of tourists visit the city to participate in the largest Brazilian celebration of them all. The spotlight turns to Sambódromo, home of the traditional samba schools parade. In two years’ time, however, it will be another story. Samba will make way for sport and Sambódromo will host a different show, performed by marathon runners and archers in the Rio 2016 Games. Recently renovated, the ‘Passarela do Samba’ (Samba Runway in Portuguese), as it is called, will be adapted in order to host the competitions.
“We have two challenges in this project. The first is to turn a public installation designed to host parades of floats into a sport venue. The second is Sambódromo’s transition from ‘archery mode’ to ‘marathon mode’ in a matter of days, when we will have to dismantle some temporary stands and readapt the whole field of play”, explained Rio 2016 Venues Architect Ariel Fertonani.
“These two factors, combined with the fact that the venue is such an iconic location in the city, make this project so exciting and unique to us”, he added.
Projections of the Sambódromo as a venue for the marathon (left) and archery (right) competitions (Image: Rio 2016)
The venue, being one of the best-known locations in the city, is expected to improve the visibility of archery, a sport as yet little-practised in Brazil.
“The World Archery (The International Archery Federation) was delighted with the choice of Sambódromo to host the Rio 2016 events. They looked for an expressive site that would contribute to drawing attention to the sport. Sambódromo, a well-known tourist attraction in Rio and part of carioca tradition, will serve this purpose very well”, said Luiz Almeida, part of the team responsible for the Rio 2016 archery competitions.
The marathon start and finish will also take place in Sambódromo. From the stands, 30,000 spectators will be able to follow the footsteps of the marathon runners who will pass through 600 metres of the ‘samba runway’ towards the finish line.
“During carnival, Brazilians celebrate. In Rio 2016, the whole world will celebrate and the athletes will be the ones parading while they represent their countries through sport. It’ll be a unique moment”, said marathon runner Adriana da Silva, Brazil’s only female representative in the London 2012 women’s marathon.
While awaiting the Rio 2016 Games, Sambódromo will celebrate Brazilian culture in the latest edition of the samba schools parade, taking place between 28 February - 3 March. For the Games Organising Committee, it is an opportunity to follow the backstage event operations and observe issues like personnel flow, crowd management, services infrastructure, security, transport, accessibility and medical care.
“Although it isn’t a sporting event, Rio’s carnival involves a large audience, and many operations are similar to those of any big event. It’s important to put ourselves in the spectators’ place and evaluate every step these people will take from the moment of arrival until they leave. We want to observe if there are queues, places to buy food and drink, if the toilets are suitable or if there is a lot of waiting around”, explained Rio 2016 Spectator Experience Specialist Michele Heinen.
With thousands of people coming in and out of various points of the city, transport logistics will also be a crucial point.
“Aside from the event taking place in a future competition venue, we’ll also find different customers that will use the airports and public transport, and will need good signposting, accessibility and would like to feel safe, and go home having had an excellent travel experience”, says Rio 2016 Transport Client Specialist Murilo Monteiro.