Here’s How Rio’s Olympic Venues Actually Turned Out

After years of apprehension, we’re finally getting a look at the finished architecture of the Rio games.

With a price tag that’s already set records by being $1.6 billion over-budget, mass outbreaks of the Zika virus, and water-sport venues that are allegedly teeming with human excrement, the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are already looking like the biggest planning disaster in IOC history–and this, just two years after Sochi.


But it’s not all bad. As part of the $12 billion budget attached to the Olympic Games, Rio has built 11 new sports facilities, ranging from a whitewater water park and a bitchin’ BMX stadium to a massive new tennis center and a trio of multi-use sports arenas. And unlike past Olympic games, most of these structures will be permanently integrated into Rio’s urban fabric, giving Brazilian athletes, students, and the general public places to swim and play for years to come.

Ahead of today’s torch-lighting ceremony, here are the 11 new stadiums, parks, and venues you’ll be getting to know over the course of this year’s Summer Olympic and Paralympic games.

The Carioca Arenas

Located in Rio’s Barra de Tijuca district, just southeast of the City Center, the Carioca Arenas were designed by the Arqhos Consultoria e Projetos. They’re fairly typical general-use arenas: the first arena seats 16,000 people and will host the Olympic basketball games, as well as the Paralympics wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby matches. With 10,000 seats, Arena 2 will host the Olympic Wrestling and Judo matches, as well as Paralympics boccia, a bocce-like sport. The third arena can also seat 10,000, and will host fencing and taekwondo tournaments during the Olympics, as well as judo in the Paralympics. All of the Carioca Arenas are pretty by-the-numbers affairs–which is perhaps why they’ve avoided issues during construction. After the Olympics, Rio intends to turn the Carioca Arenas into permanent training centers for various sports.

Olympics Aquatics Stadium

One of Rio 2016’s temporary structures, the Olympics Aquatic Stadium, will host the swimming and water polo events in both this year’s Olympics and Paralympics games. The IOC boasts that the building is a “model of sustainability,” featuring a natural ventilation system to keep the building cool with a minimum of air conditioning.

The outside of the building will be wrapped in 66 painted panels, from Brazilian artist Adriana Varejão, which are anti-UV treated to further keep the temperature inside the building down. It features two pools, and thanks to a special filtration system, the water will reportedly require up to 25% less chemical treatment to keep clean over the course of the games than similar pools. Built for a price of $38 million, the venue will be dismantled after the games and the material will be used to help construct two public swimming pools elsewhere in Rio: one with a capacity for 6,000 swimmers, and the other with a 3,000-person capacity.

Olympic BMX Center

Designed by Vigliecca & Associados with consulting from Elite Trax, the Olympic BMX Centre is one of the simpler new venues at Rio 2016: little more than a set of bleachers with 7,500 seats, as well as a 400 meter-long rolling dirt bike track with a succession of big jumps and sharp terms straight out of Rad. After the Olympics, the BMX Centre will be maintained for public use.


Olympic Golf Course

Probably the venue most ahead of schedule–a year ago, it was already 98% completed–the Olympic Golf Course is located close to the Barra Olympic Park. For golf fans, this course is particularly important, since it will be the first course to host an Olympic golf tournament in over a century. Featuring individual 72-hole events for both men and women, the Olympic Golf Course was designed by Rua Aquitetos, with consulting from Hanse Golf Course Design–the famous golf course design firm headed up by Gil Hanse, who beat out Jack Nicklaus as the course architect. It can seat 15,000 spectators, and after the Olympics, will continue to serve as a public golf venue, with the goal of promoting the sport in Brazil and South America. But the course isn’t free from issues: reports suggest it may be overrun with sloths, crocodiles, and rodents. Fore!

Olympic Hockey Center

Technically not an entirely new venue, the Olympic Hockey Center was previously used as a hockey field for the 2007 Pan American Games. But that hardly counts: Then it was little more than an old soccer field, where as it’s seen a total overhaul for the 2016 Olympics. Overseen by Vigliecca & Associados, the new Hockey Center features two separate pitches, one with 7,800 seats, and the other with 4,100 seats, both featuring a blue-and-green sea of artificial turf. After the Olympic Games, the Hockey Center will become the permanent home of the Brazilian national field hockey team.

Olympic Tennis Center

Designed by Blac Aquitetura, the Olympic Tennis Center is built on the former site of the Nelson Piquet International Autodrome, a famous Formula One race course used in the Grand Prix on 10 different occasions. The center consists of one major tennis stadium located in the colosseum-like Centre Court, which has capacity for 10,000 spectators. There are also 15 smaller courts nearby, with seating for between 5,000 spectators and 3,000 spectators apiece. After the games, it will be part of the Olympic Training Center–a permanent venue for the training of future Brazilian sports stars.

Olympic Whitewater Stadium

One of the cooler Olympic venues, the Olympic Whitewater Stadium is a kayaking and canoeing venue that, as its name suggests, tries to emulate the rolling rapids of a whitewater river. Featuring a variety of locks and sliding canals for kayakers to slalom through, the artificial reservoir can hold up to 25,000 cubic meters of water, and was designed by Vigliecca & Associados, with consulting from Whitewater Parks International. After the Olympics, all the crazy obstacles will be removed–and it will be turned into a permanent public pool.

Youth Arena

Another Vigliecca & Associados joint, the Youth Arena is where the basketball and fencing events will happen, as well as the Paralympics Wheelchair Fencing event. Capable of seating 5,800 spectators, it’s a fairly stark design, mostly notable because of its convertible design that will allow the sports space to be rapidly converted for temporary exhibitions. The structure is designed to be easy to light and ventilate naturally after the games are completed.

[All Images (unless otherwise noted): via Rio 2016]

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