- Associated Press
Sunday, August 12, 2012

LONDON — For all those beach volleyball players who thought Horse Guards Parade transformed itself into the sport’s best Olympic venue yet, wait until they arrive on the Brazilian sands of Ipanema Beach in four years.

It’s Rio’s turn — and if anybody knows how to throw a carnival, the Brazilians sure do.

“Rio! Rio! Rio!” Brazilian beach volleyball star Emanuel said after winning a silver medal last week. Emanuel plans to be there as a fan by then, his international playing days over.

Yes, the Brazilians have long begun envisioning their Olympics.

With London saying goodbye to a Summer Games that played to wide acclaim, the Olympic baton passes to Rio de Janeiro. And with it comes a whole lot of work for the 2016 hosts. Not to mention loud music and fanfare.

London’s show will be a tough act to follow, but Rio will be looking to dazzle the world with its beaches and breathtaking views while dealing with the daunting challenge of getting a city ready for the world’s most sweeping sports event.

Large-brimmed Brazilian hats sporting the 2016 logo showed up four years early in London. Along with thousands of party-ready Brazilian fans providing the perfect preview of what’s next for the world to see.

Carlos Carbajo turned up for a late pub lunch Sunday at St. Stephen’s Tavern near Westminster Abbey after watching Brazil lose the men’s volleyball final to Russia. He has many friends from Brazil and got into the spirit by sporting a Brazilian flag neckscarf for the occasion at Earls Court.

“For a few minutes I was picturing myself in the Rio carnival,” said Carbajo, a 26-year-old Spaniard who has lived in London for nearly two years. “As soon as I got to the Earls Court area, I was overwhelmed and excited by the Brazilians. They created the proper atmosphere, and they are so passionate. Many of them were wearing the logo for 2016 on oversized hats. They are preparing for the Olympics in Rio.”

And if people thought those Brazilian costumes were crazy in London — green and yellow wigs, flag leggings, shawls and face paint — wait until those outfits are kicked up a notch once the games come to home soil.

Brazil’s victorious women’s volleyball team gave quite a glimpse of what’s ahead. The Brazilians stunned the favored Americans on Saturday, then held an hour-long party at Earls Court, celebrating South America style.

Moments after winning a second straight Olympic championship, the players formed a circle with arms around each other as they jumped up and down. Several players moved to the middle as the circle danced some more. As they marched back in for the medal ceremony, they clapped and sang repeatedly, “The champion is back! The champion is back!” Several jumped onto the referee’s stand while others somersaulted across the court.

“I’m so happy, we’re double Olympic champions!” star player Jaqueline Carvalho said.

And the Brazilians are certain to have quite a welcome home when they return to a country with Rio already on its mind.

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