Flickr Shawn Carpenter
Olympic rings/Flickr/Shawn Carpenter

Why watch the 2016 Summer Olympics on TV when you can experience them live in the host city of Rio de Janeiro from August 5 through August 21? Although most people who will be attending the games began planning months ago, it’s not too late. (In fact, there are actually some advantages to having waited so long, like not having to get a visa.) Here’s what you need to know about attending the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio:

Getting there

Several airlines fly into Rio de Janeiro’s Galeão International Airport, including Delta and American Airlines. You may even want to consider booking a flight on Copa Airlines, one of Latin America’s fastest-growing carriers. Tickets are still available, but they’ll only get scarcer and more expensive as the games approach. If you find that’s the case, consider flying into nearby Santos Dumont Airport, also in Rio, or Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo. From there, you can take a short domestic flight to Rio.


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Normally, visitors from America, Canada, Australia, and Japan would need a visa to enter Brazil, but if you don’t have one yet, you’re actually in luck; the Brazilian government recently waived the requirement for travel June 1 through September 18. Since Brazil visas cost $160 plus handling fees and postage, you’ll save close to $250 per person by deciding to travel last minute.

Tickets

Each country has a designated ticketing agency that visitors are asked to purchase tickets through. (Find out which authorized dealer you should use here.) For the United States, that agency is CoSport.

While there are still a limited amount of single event tickets available, most of the events are already sold out. You can, however, purchase a combination ticket and hotel package through CoSport that includes tickets to popular events, including the opening ceremony. Because you have your choice of hotels, events, and length of stay, prices can range from $3,000 to $11,000.

Another option is to watch the games on the large screen TV that will be broadcasted throughout the city. You won’t be in the stands, but being in Rio is the next-best thing.

Warning: Tickets will surely be available on eBay and Craigslist, as well as from scalpers. Be very careful about purchasing these. Many 2014 World Cup fans were disappointed to learn, after flying to Rio, that their tickets were not valid.

Where to stay

Existing hotels throughout the city are almost completely booked for the duration of the Olympics. The good news is that many new hotels, including the Trump Rio de Janeiro, will be open in time for the games. Another new property, the Grand Hyatt Rio De Janeiro (opening in March), is available for bookings.

Additionally, the Rio Olympic organizing committee signed an agreement with Airbnb, naming the company as the official alternative lodging supplier. As of now, bookings are still available.

Getting around

Rio has long been plagued with traffic problems, and the neighborhood of Barra de Tijuca, where Olympic Park and Olympic Village are located and a majority of the events will take place, is in a distant — but more modern — section of the city. Although a bus system will be in place to shuttle spectators from Barra de Tijuca to the three other competition venues (Copacabana, Deodoro, and Maracana), expect the buses to be crowded.

Instead, consider getting around by a legal yellow taxi (look for a yellow cab with a blue stripe) that are clean and reasonably priced. A one-way fare from the international airport to Copacabana, for example, would cost about $15. Uber is also very popular in Rio.

Or, take the metro system. Line 4, connecting Barra de Tijuca to Copacabana, should be complete before opening ceremonies. A one-way ticket costs less than $1.

Zika virus

Brazil is making headlines as one of the 33 countries hardest hit by the Zika virus, but unless you are pregnant, you probably don’t need to worry. Only two in 10 people affected even experience any symptoms (fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes). If you are pregnant, though, you should probably avoid the Olympics this year since Zika has been linked to serious birth defects.

Another reason to relax: August is Brazil’s winter season, so the mosquitos that transmit the Zika virus will be less active. The city isn’t taking any chances, though. All Olympic venues, lodging for athletes, and hotels will be fumigated, inside and outside.

 

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