Photo: Paul ZimmerOlympic rings
International Tennis Federation Executive Vice President Juan Margets has come back enthused about the Rio 2016 Olympic Tennis Event following a recent trip to the Brazilian city which will play host to the "biggest sports event in the world".
“We are very enthusiastic," said Margets. "The most important thing is that we are sure the athletes are very excited because the sport will be in the heart of the Games in 2016. The proximity to the Olympic Village is another positive point to integrate and share experiences."
Tennis will be at the heart of the Barra Olympic Park, which will also play host to sports such as swimming and gymnastics. Meanwhile, wheelchair tennis will benefit from using the same facilities during the Paralympic Games.
The ITF sent professionals from its consulting, administration and communication departments from Tuesday 14 May until Thursday 16 May, with many meetings scheduled to discuss the forthcoming games with members of the Rio 2016 Organising Committee.
“In general, it has been a very positive trip," added Margets. "We arranged various meetings with all functional areas and we also visited the Barra zone, where the tennis and wheelchair tennis events will be taking place."
He also noted that the tournament in Rio de Janeiro will be very different from the one held at the 2012 London Games, which took place on the famous grass of the All England Lawn Tennis Club - one of the oldest and most prestigious venues in world tennis.
According to Margets, the first Olympic and Paralympic Games on South American soil will be a great opportunity for Brazilian tennis.
“Anyone who looks at the history of tennis knows that South America has performed, and is performing, an important role in our sport. We must not forget some major players such as Maria (Esther) Bueno and Gabriela Sabatini, among others. We hope the 2016 Games will be a catalyst for Brazilian tennis,” Margets said.
Margets was also visibly impressed with the hospitality of the Brazilian people during his stay. “This is a very welcoming country and I would say we have experienced this over the last two days. Brazilians like to receive people and put them at ease. We are leaving Rio very encouraged and we think this is going to be a very good Games for our sport,” he said.
The Olympic Tennis Centre, located in Barra Olympic Park, will include a centre court for around 10,000 spectators, other secondary courts for large numbers of spectators (5,000 in Court 1 and 3,000 in Court 2) and other support and warm-up courts, each able to seat 250 people.