(ATR) With two years to go until the Games there is little doubt that the city of Rio de Janeiro will be one of the more breathtaking places to host an Olympics.
The city is a unique combination of urban forests, beaches, mountains, and buildings very few places in the world boast.
Despite the beauty, the city presents numerous challenges Olympic organizers still need to address in limited time. Traffic, access, and presentation must be the focus of the organizers as the final preparations are done.
During the World Press Briefing, the press was taken on a venue tour of the Barra de Tijuca and Deodoro Zones. From leaving our hotel in Barra it took well over an hour to reach the Deodoro Zone, and the media villages shown at the end of the tour were quite a distance away from the Main Press Center.
Rio will have to make good on its promises to cut down traffic by completing the Transolímpico highway to connect Barra and Deodoro.
Another issue for the four Olympic Zones is the lack of public transportation. The new rapid bus line, the BRT, connects Barra to the international airport just outside the city, but to get from Barra to Copacabana, a taxi or busses are required.
The metro and bus system has expanded, but only Copacabana and Maracana are connected via the metro. Rio’s two metro lines are nowhere near as expansive as the London Tube or the Tokyo’s rail networks.
The public transportation for sports fans could prove maddening.
On Sunday, I took the train to Maracana for the Flamengo vs. Sport Recife match.
Despite its limited capacity, the Rio metro was clean, accessible (in areas where it runs) and largely convenient when travelling from Copacabana to Maracana. The train ride itself took around half an hour.
However, it was all too easy to get confused on the train.
While the train ride went quick enough, I spent close to an hour-and-a-half waiting in the wrong lines until someone could show me the right way.
Signs in both English and Portuguese helped guide me around. Unfortunately, those were the only signs that were present in English throughout the week.
During the Olympics, travelers from all over the world with limited knowledge of Portuguese will descend on Rio de Janeiro. Providing multi-lingual signage will go a long way to make the city accessible, especially around stadiums
Test Event a Good Sign
In areas where traffic is not backed up, the travel via taxi is fairly easy. It took less than 15 minutes to get from Copacabana to the Marina da Gloria for the Aquece Rio sailing test event.
If the test event was any indication for how the Games would run, the Olympics will be smooth sailing. The event was well marked, and volunteers were more than helpful to answer questions about where to go and how things were operating.
Rio 2016 may have its challenges ahead of itself to make the Games operate as smoothly as possible, but the backdrop and competition should remind all why it was worth it.
Written by Aaron Bauer.
20 Years at #1: Your best source of news about the Olympics is AroundTheRings.com, for subscribers only.