ross-merrill - August 4, 2016
All eyes will be on Rio de Janeiro for the next two weeks. We'll see the beaches, the big Christ the Redeemer statue, and (hopefully) lots of girls in bikinis.
Rio is the first city in South America to host the Olympics, and it's actually a very interesting place with a cool history. Here are some fun and strange facts about what is called "The Marvelous City."
It's a tall structure on top of a mountain in a stormy part of the planet, so yeah, Christ the Redeemer gets zapped up to four times a year. In 2015, a bolt damaged the statue's head and broke off part of its right thumb. You can actually see the statue get blasted in the video above. Make of the symbolism whatever you want.
The Maracanã, the soccer stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies will be held, was the site of the 1950 World Cup final match between Brazil and Uruguay. Close to 200,000 people packed into the stadium; about 10% of the country's entire population...only to see the visitors win, 2-1. But the event set the record for the largest crowd in an enclosed stadium. If you take out events like the Tour de France and giant venues like NASCAR tracks, the 1950 match is the largest crowd to watch any sporting event, even the Olympics, in the last 2,000 years.
Carnival brings out the hottest girls...
Carnival is famous for floats, parades...and women dressed like Vegas showgirls. We've covered this before. The sultry, exotic women of Rio seem to love dressing up in all kinds of costumes...or body paint...or nothing at all (though technically nudity is forbidden, which doesn't stop a lot of people). It's like a week-long Mardi Gras, combined with New Year's Eve, and you really just have to experience it for yourself.
Let's stroll through some recent Carnival-related headlines:
Three electrocuted in Brazil when Carnival float hits line on Rio's outskirts
155 dead, more than 3,000 car crashes during Brazilian Carnival celebrations
Freak carnival accident kills 16 in Brazil
German tourist murdered on last day of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
Rio Carnival mood soured by wave of killings
Just about every year, at least a few people die, either from faulty equipment or car accidents or plain old murder, for which Brazil is the world's worst city. Rio is deploying 85,000 security forces, more than double what London had in 2012, so the Olympics should be safer than Carnival...except for the toxic water and Zika virus.
It's not just a Barry Manilow song: Copacabana is a real place, a 2 1/2-mile long beach with mountains in the background. It will host beach volleyball for the Olympics. If you've heard of "The Girl from Ipanema," that's in Rio as well. The city only recently opened its first nude beach, Praia do Abricó, a few years ago. Basically, any beach you go to, you're going to see beautiful Brazilian women with fantastic butts.
This is Vinicius. It's some kind of cat or monkey (even NBC News doesn't know for sure) and can also fly and stretch itself like Plastic-Man. It's named after Vinicius de Moraes, who co-wrote "The Girl from Ipanema." It's kind of frightening, but, to be honest, its Paralympics pal is scarier.
Enchanted Land opened in 1998. In just eight years, it hosted a street fight bewteen jiu-jitsu fighters, an employee strike, multiple performer injuries, and a 60-person riot. Finally, a woman was thrown from one of the rides and killed. The owners were charged with manslaughter and the park was deemed unsafe. Finally, this year the park was demolished. Before it disappeared, it made for some pretty creepy photos.
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