LAUSANNE: With just over three weeks to go until the Opening Ceremony, “Rio 2016 is ready to welcome the world” according to International Olympic Committee coordination commission chair Nawal El Moutawakel .

The former Olympic champion, who heads the IOC’s Commission that since 2009 has been following the preparations for the Olympic Games Rio 2016, made this statement after her final pre-Games visit to the Brazilian host city.

After meetings with the Rio 2016 Organising Committee, all three levels of local government (Federal, State and City), and a tour of a number of sporting venues, El Moutawakel said, “Rio 2016 is ready to welcome the world. The Olympians of 2016 can look forward to living in an outstanding Olympic Village and competing in absolutely stunning venues.

“From views of the Corcovado and Sugar Loaf Mountain to the new state-of-the-art facilities in Barra or Deodoro and the iconic Maracanã Stadium and Copacabana Beach, I cannot imagine more spectacular backdrops for the world’s top sportsmen and women to showcase their talents to a watching world.”

She added: “I have been visiting Rio regularly since 2009, and I love the Cariocas, and the Brazilians in general.  They are a very warm and hospitable people, who know how to welcome guests and how to live life to the fullest.

“Spectators visiting Rio this August will be able to fully experience that spirit, as they go to the venues, visit the live sites and discover the city. The Cariocas are going to be celebrating, and this means that Rio de Janeiro will be the place to be this August.

“The Brazilians have also transformed the city through a legacy vision that they have made a reality. Not just by delivering all the venues and services that the Games require on time, but also by creating a legacy that will benefit local citizens and the whole country for decades. The success of these Games will be their success.”

Last venues

After successfully hosting 44 test events, the Rio 2016 team and the venues are ready for action, with all the facilities receiving their final Olympic touches before the athletes  start to arrive in about two weeks’ time.

The velodrome and equestrian venues, which were being monitored closely by the organisers, are also in the final stage of preparation, and will be ready for the Games.

The new Metro Line 4, which links Ipanema and Barra da Tijuca, and the Transolimpica Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), linking Barra to Deodoro, will also be fully operational for spectators at the Games.

Trains are now running the full length of the metro line, as it enters the final stages of testing. This follows months of work by the Rio State authorities to test the personnel, rolling stock and safety technology of the new line, while the last bits of construction were being completed.

#The metro will play a key role in a sophisticated transport plan that will see athletes, spectators and local residents take advantage of a number of new pieces of transport infrastructure, such as approximately 150km of new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines that have been built thanks to the catalyst of the Games and which are already, in some cases, changing local peoples’ lives for the better.

The subject of zika was discussed during the visit.

It was underlined that the latest advice of the WHO reaffirms that “there should be no general restrictions on travel and trade with countries, areas and/or territories with Zika virus transmission, including the cities in Brazil that will be hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

The Games will take place during the winter months of August and September, when the drier, cooler climate greatly reduces the presence of mosquitoes and therefore the risk of infection.

On the wider security front, the Brazilian authorities reinforced their commitment to safe and secure Games, with a combined security force of 85,000 people guaranteeing the security of the Olympic Village, the sports venues and key infrastructure, such as the city’s airports and main roads. Security personnel from 55 countries will be involved in securing the Games.