News / Americas

London Olympics Offers Lessons for Rio de Janeiro

Brian Padden
The mayor of Rio de Janeiro, the city that will host the 2016 Olympics, said Friday he was impressed with London's ability to handle the large crowds attending the games.  The Brazilian city plans to upgrade its transport system and infrastructure in the next four years to accommodate the surge of Olympic fans and leave a lasting legacy for its residents.

London Mayor Boris Johnson says this year's games have provided a boost to tourism and to the image of both London and Great Britain.  In a joint news conference with Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes -- to talk about what Rio can learn from London when it hosts the games in 2016 -- Johnson said visitors have seen a city that "functions extremely well."

“There was a lot of anxieties about transport, about security, whether people would get behind the games. And you've seen some fantastic images of London beamed around the world. That's the winner for me,” Johnson said.

Mayor Paes praised London's established public transport system for its capacity to move large crowds with few major delays.  He said Rio de Janeiro is already working to upgrade and improve its system for the games and for the longterm benefit of the people of the city.

“So only we carry 18 percent of all the population in high capacity transportation. With what we are doing now for the Olympics it will be more than 60 percent. So that means lots of changes for the city,” Paes said.

Taking note of some of the cheaper, temporary venues that London constructed for the Olympics,  Paes said Rio does not intend to waste money building huge structures like's China's "bird nest" stadium -- that has rarely been used since the end of the 2008 games.  

“I mean we'll do as much temporarily as we can. Only if we need that after the games and we will use it as simple as we can. And not spend too much money on things that have to be teared down by the end of the games,” Paes said.

London's Mayor Johnson describes the successful experience of hosting the Olympics as “spine tingling apprehension and a steady growing sense of relief.” The only advice he offered his Brazilian counterpart in planning the 2016 games, was to ignore the skeptics in the news media.

  • Meseret Defar of Ethiopia, after she won the women's 5000m final, Friday, August 10, 2012.
  • Jordan Ernest Burroughs of the U.S. (in red) fights with Canada's Matthew Judah Gentry in the Men's 74kg Freestyle wrestling.
  • Montenegro's water polo players watch the final seconds of their team's loss to Croatia.
  • Tunisia's Oussama Mellouli swims on his way to gold during the men's 10-kilometer swimming marathon
  • Spain's team performs in the synchronized swimming free routine final.
  • Israel's Neta Rivkin competes using the ribbon in her individual all-around gymnastics qualification match.
  • Australia's Jesse Phillips, left, and Stephen Bird paddle through the men's kayak double 200m semifinal.
  • Sweden's team players celebrate after defeating Hungary in their men's semi-final match at the Basketball Arena.
  • Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia reacts after winning gold in the men's 10km marathon swimming at Hyde Park.
  • Visitors' shadows cast as they stroll through the ExCel arena in London.
  • Latvia's Maris Strombergs bows after winning the men's BMX event.

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