RIO DE JANEIRO – Rio de Janeiro, known internationally for its carnival and magnificent landscapes, is trying to show off its natural beauty for Olympic visitors amid the socioeconomic problems it faces.
The host city wants to show during the Aug. 5-21 Summer Olympics that it is ready to welcome 800,000 tourists and about 10,000 athletes.
Brazilian officials, who are dealing with high crime rates, the Zika virus and an economic and political crisis, are working to ensure that visitors have a safe and pleasant stay in the city.
Brochures about the city and the Olympic schedule have been printed to hand out to tourists.
With more than 2,000 cultural events on tap, improving public transportation is one of the top priorities for Rio de Janeiro, where traffic jams are common.
A new Metro line has been built to expand access to Olympic Park in Barra de Tijuca and several buses will cover 16 Olympic and nine Paralympic facilities.
Transportation has been enhanced for access to the Deodoro Sports Complex, as well as Maracana Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies will take place.
The city’s top attractions, such as the Christ the Redeemer statue, Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana beach and the Babilonia and La Rozinha “favelas,” or shantytowns, will also be within reach of downtown Rio.
Tourists are being encouraged to be aware of their surroundings and avoid walking in poorly lit areas.
Health officials assured visitors that Zika will not be a major threat since August is in the dry season and there are fewer mosquitoes.
The Zika virus, which is mainly transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, causes fever, joint pain and rashes.
Zika has been linked to a neurodevelopment disorder known as microcephaly, in which babies are born with brain damage and a smaller-than-normal head size.