RIO DE JANEIRO - Jacques Rogge, the head of the International Olympic Committee, said Wednesday he saw Rio de Janeiro as well on its way to preparing to host the 2016 Olympic Games.
"I'm very happy today because I see the preparations for the Games well underway," he said as he laid a symbolic first stone at what will become the Olympic Village in the city.
The ceremony gave an official profile to works that are already underway to have the facility ready for the world's premiere sporting event. Brazil is to be the first South American country to present the Olympics. Its hosting duties will follow those of 2014, when it holds the football World Cup. Rogge said the launch of work on the Olympic Village was "fundamental" because it formed "the heart of the Games," a place where participants could mingle while respecting differences of race, religion and languages. Organizers showed Rogge a scale model of the Olympic Village, a facility comprising 48 buildings of 12 storeys that will boast a total 2,880 apartments. It will also have a training area, a plaza, a shopping mall with eateries, a park, and areas for tennis, volleyball and football -- and a beach for the exclusive use of the athletes.