Olympic flag arrives in Rio

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes stepped off a plane carrying the flag. -Photo by AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO: The Olympic flag arrived in Rio de Janeiro on Monday, the Brazilian city that will host the 2016 Summer Games.

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes stepped off a plane carrying the flag, accompanied by Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the 2016 Games Organizing Committee, Rio Governor Sergio Cabral and Brazilian athletes who competed in London.

Hosting the Games will be a huge challenge for a city notorious for its traffic chaos, inadequate infrastructure and violence, but authorities say Rio will rise to the occasion.

On Tuesday, the flag will be flown to Brasilia for a ceremony attended by President Dilma Rousseff and on Wednesday Paes will carry it through Rio's northern Alemao complex of favelas as well as through the western district of Realengo, officials said.

On Sunday, Paes received the Olympic flag from London Mayor Boris Johnson during the ceremony that marked the close of the London Games and the countdown to the 2016 Summer Games, which will be the first held in South America.

On Monday, Brazilian deputy sports minister Luis Fernandes said in London that the 2016 Games would galvanize projects already in place across South America's largest country as well as in Rio, a city of 6.5 million people.

The plans in Rio include the extension of a metro line to the western Barra da Tijuca district. Four express lanes for buses and cars are also under construction.

“The Olympics are an opportunity to invest a huge quantity of funds in infrastructure, an amount that would normally take 15 or 20 years to invest,” Fernandes told a press conference in London.

“The Olympics give us an opportunity to concentrate resources to build this infrastructure a bit sooner,” he added.

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