Final countdown: Olympic torch to arrive in Rio de Janeiro

Olympic torch
The Olympic Torch Relay will visit the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer on Friday (5 August) before heading to the opening ceremony.

As the epic three-month relay enters its last days, the torch will enter Rio under sail and visit all corners of the Olympic city.

The Olympic torch will arrive in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday (3 August) on a yacht steered by an elite crew of seven Olympic medal-winning sailors from Brazil, as it heads towards the Maracanã and the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games.

It will take the yacht around one hour to sail across Guanabara Bay from the commuter town of Niterói to an historic naval base in Rio de Janeiro. The evocative journey pays homage to Rio’s maritime beginnings and to Brazil’s strong tradition in sailing – the sport in which the country has won most Olympic medals. Among the crew will be sailing legend Torben Grael, who has won a total of five medals (two gold), more than any other Brazilian athlete.

To open the final chapter in the torch’s epic 20,000km journey across Brazil, the sailors will hand over the symbol of the Olympic Games to Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro. Paes will be the first torchbearer in the city. Other torchbearers will come from all across carioca society and will include sports students, waste collectors, theatre directors and waiters.

On its first day in Rio, the relay will cross the historic centre of the former Brazilian capital and witness at first hand the transformation that this region is undergoing as a result of the Olympic Games. The torch will ride on the brand-new tram system and visit the renovated Municipal Theatre, one of Rio’s most recognisable and beloved buildings. The torch will end the day by visiting underprivileged suburbs of Rio, spending the night in Nova Iguaçu.

Olympic torch
The torch will take a ride on the VLT, the high-tech tram that has transformed the face of downtown Rio,

Road to the Maracanã

On Thursday, which will be a city-wide public holiday in Rio, the relay will visit the Olympic zones of Barra da Tijuca and Deodoro in the west of Rio, as well as famous tourist areas such as Ipanema and Copacabana. At the very western edge of the city, on idyllic, semi-deserted Macumba beach, surfer Rico Souza will be one of the chosen torchbearers. Other Brazilian sports heroes to carry the torch will include world football champions Cafu, Carlos Alberto Parreira and Mário Zagallo.

This being Rio, legends of samba will also be participating in Thursday’s party, which will culminate in the lighting of a special cauldron in Praça Mauá in the renovated waterfront district.

Olympic torch
The party will last long into the night in southern Rio de Janeiro on Thursday.

On Friday, the 95th and very last day of the relay, the Olympic Torch will make its highly anticipated journey to visit the world-famous statue of Christ the Redeemer. The torch will be blessed by the Archbishop of Rio before continuing its journey around central and southern Rio, during which it will make what should be a memorable cable car ride up Sugarloaf Mountain, another of Rio’s most celebrated landmarks.

Olympic torch
The torch will vist beautiful Sugarloaf Mountain on the last day of the relay.

From there, it will be off to what promises to be a spectacular opening ceremony in the legendary Maracanã stadium, where the torch will be used to light the Olympic cauldron that will burn bright in Rio de Janeiro until the ending of the Games on Sunday 21 August.