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Chicago got a bittersweet reminder Monday of what might have been for its Olympic dream, as Rio de Janeiro quietly begins construction of its park for the 2016 Summer Games.
Rio’s Olympic Park installations will provide venues for 14 Olympic sports, including swimming, basketball, gymnastics, cycling, judo and tennis. The plan also includes construction of a new 400-room hotel, the main media center and three pavilions that will host the future Brazilian Olympic training center.
“Today is a historical day for Brazilian sport,” said Carlos Nuzman, president of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Committee. “The Olympic Park is the heart of the Games, and after 2016 it will leave as a legacy the first Olympic training camp in South America.”
Opening and closing ceremonies will be held at Rio’s historic Maracana Stadium, which was constructed in 1950 and is currently undergoing renovations in preparation for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup, as well as the 2016 Summer Games.
Events such as marathon swimming, triathlon and beach volleyball will take place at the storied Copacabana Beach. The master plan for the Rio Games calls for four competition areas, and the Brazilian government says it is spending $17 million to renovate the city’s mass transit infrastructure in preparation for the Olympics, as well as the FIFA World Cup.
Rio was awarded the 2016 Summer games in Copenhagen in October 2009, beating out Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid. While Chicago was considered a favorite for the Games, the city was eliminated on the first ballot.