Cariocas love sports - from football to
paragliding, and everything in between. Every beach, forest and body of
water in Rio de Janeiro attests to the fact that Cariocas are in the
midst of an enduring love-affair with sport and fitness.
I LOVE RIO explores the sporting recreations of the
mountains, beaches, sea and air, providing advice and tips on how to get
involved, as well as fascinating stories and useful tips. Professional
and popular sports are covered alongside modern trends such as
slack-lining and stand-up paddle, as well as information on hikes,
classes, local teams, gyms and competitive events.
THE MOST DIVERSE URBAN GYM IN THE WORLD
Being a sunny city blessed by a warm climate, Rio de
Janeiro is the perfect place to develop a solid sports culture, as
people are drawn to the streets by the optimal temperature. Sunny days,
heat, and blue horizons created an intensely outdoor culture, where
sports and activities play an important role in everyday's life in the
Beaches for swimming, forests for hiking, and
mountains for climbing make of Rio de Janeiro one of the biggest,
most fun, most diverse, open-air gyms in the world. Sporting events
throughout the city are the ideal setting for Cariocas to combine
their passion for sports with their predilection for socializing and
the grandiose spectacle.
People of all ages gather along the shores of many
beaches, day and night, playing all sort of sports - surf, beach
soccer, volley ball, foot volley, gymnastics, jogging, and even
weigh-lifting, just to name a few. Youths learn soccer all along the
beaches, while the elders enjoy free gyms and exercise in classes
courtesy of the city's prefecture.
Blue waters energize during the day, and mesmerize at
sunset - always welcoming surfers, body boarders, swimmers, and divers.
The white sands of a hundred shores feel like velvet when playing
volley, beach volley, fresco ball, beach soccer, and Rio's all time
favorite sport "altinha."
Green urban forests are home to beautiful waterfalls,
small lakes, and trails passing through some of the richest ecosystems
on earth - rich of flora, fauna, and unforgettable corners of Atlantic
rainforest. Lakes and lagoons reflect the skyline, and are outlined by
paths made just for biking, skating, jogging, and running - with no
other thought than the moment itself.
Rocky hills invite rock-climbers to earn privilege
views of stunning landscapes, islands, and unique perspectives of the
city below. Peaks so open and high to give the sensation of flight - to
hikers, or to the brave who jump and hang glide next to the tropical
birds who own the skies of Rio.
As a public and democratic space, Rio's beaches are
the ideal setting for people from all social backgrounds and
abilities to come together and enjoy sporting recreations. Reluctant
to simply sit and soak up the sun's rays, most Cariocas opt for a
more active and mobile engagement with their surroundings and have
adapted and developed a number of different sports that are perfect
for the sandy terrain.
One sport which is played at almost every beach in
Rio, regardless of size and demographic, is "futebol de areia," or
beach soccer. At larger beaches, such as the "Praia do Flamengo,"
and in areas of the Western Zone of Rio, there are nets and portions
of the sand dedicated to the recreation. Altinha, or "little high,"
is a game in which the ball is passed in the air between circles
of players, using feet, calves, knees, shoulders and head. The
golden rule - that the ball remains air bound at all times - lends
the sport its name.
Another celebrated sport is Volleyball and courts can
be found lining the beachfront at almost all of the beaches in the city,
where professionals and amateurs come to flaunt and hone their talents.
There is also a wide assortment of water-based sports
which Cariocas and visitors flock to Rio's shores for. Swimmers
congregate in groups for mass swims and competitions, while surfers and
body-boarders take to the rough, clean waters of the Barra da Tijuca
neighbourhood, and further afield to nearby Recreio – as well as the
trendy beaches of the districts of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon.
At the moment, Stand-Up Paddle is the fashionable
water recreation in Rio: a sport that involves standing on a board while
using a paddle to glide through the waves. The activity offers tranquil
exercise accompanied by unique views of the natural landscape, easy to
practice and also enjoyable on lakes and lagoons.
No longer associated with the macho and rebel culture
of the 70s and the 80s, standard Surf still remains an important part of
Rio's counterculture - and grew a large following due to the gorgeous
beaches engulfed by the city. Local surfing groups devote time and
efforts to create competitions to bring together national and
international surf champions along Rio's famous beaches.
The beaches represent one of Rio's main touristic
attraction, and the locals make great use of them. Yet, soccer has
the highest following in the general Carioca sports culture - deeply
ingrained in people's minds, it has grown to be a part of daily
life. It is by far the most appreciated sport in Brazil, and Rio de
Janeiro is no exception.
Soccer has the special characteristic of overcoming
social differences, and can be played just about anywhere - perhaps
the reason why it became so popular worldwide as it did. In fact, in
favelas as much as in luxurious districts, the main sports events
revolve around it.
Soccer has been a major part of Brazilian culture
since its migration from England in 1894. Also part of the reason for
the sport's popularity and prevalence is the fact that it is highly
accessible, and can be played on a wide range of terrains. Cariocas can
be seen honing their skills with the ball across the city, from its
sandy beaches to the winding paths of the favelas.
Rio is home to some of the most well-known and
supported soccer teams in Brazil, whose games are hosted at the iconic
Maracanã stadium throughout the year.
There are several championships that Cariocas follow,
holding passionate alliances with various teams. The "Campeonato de
Futebol Carioca," or Carioca Soccer Championship, is the Rio de Janeiro
state competition, which has existed under one guise or another since
1906. The most popular and successful teams are Flamengo, Botafogo,
Vasco and Fluminense.
The most important national cup is called "Campeonato
Brasileiro," or Brazilian Championship, popularly known as the
"Brasileirão," which was created in 1959 and has four divisions. The
"Copa do Brasil," or Brazilian Cup, was founded in 1989, and has a
greater number of teams representing a larger cross-section of states in
the country. Champions of both of these national competitions are
guaranteed a spot in the "Copa Libertadores da América," or Liberty Cup
Soccer's beach variant remains especially popular,
with the city serving as a beautiful backstage to many international
Rio's wonderfully diverse topography and landscape
lends itself to a wide range of sporting activities. The forests and
mountains offer great opportunities for hiking, climbing and
Along the parks, most notably on the "Aterro de
Flamengo," or Flamengo Park, masses of runners, tight-rope walkers,
weight-lifters, skaters and cyclists congregate to flex their muscles
and sweat away the stresses of the day. Competitive runs are regularly
organized across the city to bring together the large swathes of fitness
Capoeira is an art form and sport which combines
combat, dance, music and play and is performed to chanting and
percussion. It was created in the early 16th century by Brazilian slaves
of African heritage, as a way of masking fighting techniques by hiding
them in dance moves. In late 2014 it was given UN cultural heritage
Private gyms and sports clubs abound, providing a
wide range of equipment and classes to satisfy every fitness taste. The
city itself promotes an active lifestyle to its residents, through
advertising campaigns highlighting the value of Rio as a precious tool
to stay healthy.
Dozens of public gyms for the elderly are placed
across town in many parks, gardens, and even along the beaches: the
government has invested in successful health and sporting initiatives to
improve the fitness of its population, setting up free outdoor gyms and
body weights in parks and communities, to encourage and expand access to
recreational fitness practice.
Rio de Janeiro is a big city, extending through an
area of over 4400 square kilometres built right beside the beach,
with many lagoons, and next to fabulous hills, forests, and rocky
formations - So, it is no surprise that bicycling is so much
appreciated among the Cariocas, and the state has built more than
360 kilometres of urban bike paths, many of which cross some of the
most coveted views in the city and surrounding areas.
As some sports are also great to watch, they become
important touristic events - volleyball, yachting, motor racing, martial
arts, jujitsu, and capoeira always attract the attention of Cariocas and
Today, Rio de Janeiro is considered one of the
sporting capitals of the world – playing host to the lionesses of
international sporting competition, as well as providing fertile
ground for an endless stream of events and activities.
To acknowledge Rio's commitment to sport and fitness,
the city played unforgettable host to the World Cup in 2014 and was
chosen as the scene for the highly prestigious Olympic Games of 2016.
The city hosts the annual Rio Sport Show, a fair for sporting equipment,
services, gyms and clubs.
In 2015, the state hosted a number of sporting events
to commemorate Rio's 450th year of existence, including long runs, and
the opportunity to experiment 14 different sport and leisure events
across the waterfront between the distrcits of Leme and Recreio dos
Every year, the city also hosts the World
Championship of Capoeira , which benefits from the participation of
seventeen countries. The competition offers Capoeira artists the
opportunity to showcase their talents to a wider audience, and receive
highly sought after international recognition.
The "Desafio da Paz" (Challenge of Peace) are
sporting events that take place in the backstreets of Rio's most
illustrious favelas, hosted by the world-renowned Grupo Cultural
Afroreggae (Afroreggae Cultural Group).
The Desafio da Paz has become a cherished part of
the city's sporting calendar, hosting a variety of events in
communities across the metropolitan area. Underpinning the project
is the desire to promote peace and the cultural and sporting fruits
that a tranquil social environment offers.
A popular sporting recreation which originated in
favelas is kite-flying. Young and old residents have spent years
perfecting the art of constructing kites and conducting competitions in
Rio de Janeiro is sunny and warm, naturally inviting
to go out and practice sports - an invite the city extends worldwide to
all who wish to play.