Rio de janeiro: The Brazilian city of Rio has started the 500-day countdown for the 2016 Olympic Games.
This means that the planning phase is over and the city is now in the execution phase of the Olympic projects, reports Xinhua.
Carlos Arthur Nuzman, head of the Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) and the organising committee for the 2016 Olympic Games, stressed the importance of the Games for Rio, saying that the competition will lead to a great change in the city, even more than it was seen in Barcelona (1992) and Tokyo (1964).
"The population will be the greatest beneficiary of the Games," he said.
Nuzman, a former Olympic athlete who participated in the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 in Brazil's volleyball team, stressed that the infrastructure projects carried out to prepare Rio for the Games, including the large port area revamp which is underway, will transform the city.
In addition, Nuzman highlighted that the Olympic projects are on schedule - an understandable concern for Brazilians, as many of the projects foreseen for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, such as airport renovations and new subway lines, were not ready by the beginning of the competition.
The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio will be held from August 7 to 18.
A second ceremony to mark the 500-day countdown for the Paralympic Games will be held as well. The Paralympic Games take place a few weeks after the end of the Olympic Games, in the same city.