Rio 2016, or how Brazilians stopped worrying and loved the Paralympic Games

After initial skepticism, Cariocas are embracing the Rio Games through to the end

Silene de Nazare Moreira dos Santos did not have a chance to go to the Olympics. Tickets were too expensive.

Silene and her grandaughter at Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on September 15, 2016
Silene de Nazare Moreira dos Santos (right) and her grandaughter at Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sept. 15.  (CALLUM FERGUSON)

Thursday, she made it to the Olympic Park and her high expectations were easily reached.

“I am here today for the very first time and I am loving it,” she said, outside of the tennis stadium. “I think everything is beautiful and well organized.”

While the Olympics were accessible only to middle to upper classes due to ticket prices, the Paralympics are attracting a broader audience that is supportive of  athletes, regardless of nationality.

Moreira dos Santos thinks this is part of the culture Rio de Janeiro has shown the world.

“We are not just about Carnival and about Samba,” she said. “We showed that we can definitely organize ourselves and have a successful Games.

“We have culture. We are a very cultural city. We showed to the world that it was possible to host the Games here, and it has been great.”

The important thing in the grandmother’s eyes is that the city builds on this momentum.

“Having the games in Rio definitely improved the Cariocas (locals to Rio) life,” she said. “I hope these lives will keep improving after the Games are done.”