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Rio to host 2016 Olympic Games
City in Brazil will be the first in South America to host Summer Games.
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2009 10:38 GMT

Rio's win marks the first time that a South American city has been chosen to host the Games [EPA]

Rio de Janeiro has been selected by the International Olympic Committee to host the Summer Games in 2016, after Chicago was unexpectedly voted out of contention in the first round.

"Tonight, I have the honour to announce that the games of the thirty first Olympiad are awarded to the city of Rio de Janeiro," Jacques Rogge, the president of the IOC, said after voting concluded in Copenhagen on Friday.

The Brazilian city was chosen over Madrid in the third and decisive round of voting by IOC delegates, marking the first occasion in modern Olympic history where a South American city was selected to host the Games.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil's president, shed tears at a news conference after the IOC selected Rio, saying that the Brazilian people "deserve this opportunity".

Joy in Brazil

Gabriel Elizondo, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Rio de Janeiro, said people on Copacabana beach were "ecstatic".

"There are tens of thousands of people on the beach - once the announcement was made that Rio will host the 2016 Games, a loud roar went up," he said.

"People are still taking this all in - their dream has become a reality. There is a lot of work to be done, but that is not what these people are thinking about right now. They are just enjoying the moment."

John Anderson, a sports correspondent, told Al Jazeera that the IOC delegates' decision was the correct one.

"I think if the Olympics is to be a truly global event, it has to spread its wings," he said.

"[The decision] is wonderful for a city that does have its problems.  It is a high-crime city, and we know that it is not the city with the best infrastructure in place.

"The win will give the whole city a huge lift - who knows, the kids that are in favelas may well be the stars of 2016."

Chicago rebuffed

Chicago was considered to be one of the favourites to host the Games, but its bid was the first to be ruled out by the IOC, with Tokyo voted out in the second round.

The US city's early ejection from the shortlist came in spite of personal appeals to the IOC delegates in Denmark by Barack Obama, the US president. 

Chicago, one of the favourites, failed in
the first round of voting [EPA]
Sebastian Walker, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Chicago, said people gathered for the announcement "were trying to comprehend what they had just seen", following the city's elimination.

"There was real confidence in Chicago that the city would host the 2016 Games. The bid organisers thought they were front-runners, along with Rio, to win - that was even before President Barack Obama made the decision to go to Copenhagen and make the pitch for Chicago," he said.

"People thought that having the US president there in person would sway the vote in Chicago's favour.

"But Obama's decision to go [to Denmark] was pretty controversial among many Americans; about 40 per cent of Americans thought that Obama should be in Washington and dealing with pressing domestic issues such as healthcare reform and whether to send more troops to Afghanistan."

Speaking from the White House in Washington after returning from Copenhagen, Obama said he was proud of those who put their "heart and soul" into Chicago's bid, and added that the people from other nations should visit the US to "see what we're all about".

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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