Rio de Janeiro Brazil named 2016 Olympic host city

Rio de Janeiro was named the host city for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games on Friday after an International Olympic Committee vote in Copenhagen.

Rio, which faced stiff competition from Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo, becomes the first South American city to be awarded the games.

Residents of Brazil’s second largest city streamed out of their offices and homes to celebrate the news on world famous beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics 2016At the final presentations prior to the vote earlier on Friday, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva threw his weight behind the city’s bid.

“I honestly believe it is Brazil’s time,” Silva said, adding, “It is time to light the Olympic cauldron in a tropical country.”

“We will deliver a safe and secure games,” pledged Rio state governor Sergio Cabral.

The first city to fall by the wayside was Chicago, whose bid was backed in person by U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Next to go was Tokyo, which had emphasized the “green” aspect of its bid.

Madrid and Rio were then forced to wait for just over an hour, with many pundits predicting that an emotional plea by 89-year-old former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch for the event to be awarded to Spain would see Europe awarded a third Games in a row, after London in 2012 and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia’s Sochi.

“Dear colleagues, I know I’m very near the end of my time,” he said. “I ask you to consider granting my country the honor and also the duty to organize the Games and Paralympic Games in 2016.”

His plea was in vain though. Madrid weeps, while Rio celebrates as only it knows how.

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