Rio de Janeiro will be the "host site of the most important tennis tournament realized on Brazilian soil," according to Vinicius Konchinski of UOL. Starting next year, the city will host an ATP 500 event, which will be more important than the Brasil Open currently held in São Paulo. The Rio Open will take place from Feb. 15-23 in the Jockey Club Brasileiro "and will also have a women's version." The women's Rio Open will also be on the WTA calendar. The ATP 500 events are the third most important on the tennis schedule behind the Grand Slam events and ATP 1000 tournaments. The Rio Open "will be the first ATP 500 event ever held in Brazil." The current tournament in São Paulo is classified as an ATP 250 event (UOL, 3/26). AHE BRASIL reported "eight clay courts, including a central court for 7,000 people" will be built at the Jockey Club for the tournament. The prize pool for the men's tournament will be $1.25M and $250,000 for the women's event. Tournament organizers "expect to bring in some of tennis' top ten players" for the tournament (AHE BRASIL, 3/26).
Events and Attractions
The Euro-Racecar NASCAR Touring Series kicks off its season with the Nogaro 200 at Circuit Paul Armagnac in France on Sunday. The series features seven race weekends, culmination in the championship round at LeMans, France. Other stops include Monza, Italy; Motorland Aragon, Spain; Brands Hatch, England; Dijon, France and the oval track in Tours, France. Each race weekend will feature two Elite Division races. Each race is 30 minutes long. The series has already attracted entries from more than 50 drivers representing 11 nationalities (NASCAR).
The crime rate in Rio de Janeiro "is falling but from a high point," and Rio 2016 COO Leo Gryner accepts that there is still work to be done in transforming the city’s image, according to the London INDEPENDENT. Gryner said, "The crime rate has decreased since 2008 by half. It has been cut by half in the city. Last week it came out in the city of Rio [crime] went down by almost another 10 percent. It is still going down and down. Yes [work needs to be done]. People need to know the streets are safe to walk." Last year, the U.S. State Department acknowledged" significant progress made in reducing Rio de Janeiro’s legendary, critical crime rates" but also said the chance of being robbed in the street remained high even in "affluent neighbourhoods" (INDEPENDENT, 3/26).
The Gaelic Athletic Association is to commence discussions with the Irish Rugby Football Union "on the preparation of a bid to host the rugby World Cup" in '23 or '27, according to Sean Moran of the IRISH TIMES. This follows last Saturday’s vote by annual congress "to endorse last summer’s decision by Central Council to make available a number of its grounds to facilitate the proposal." It is assumed that CrokePark "will be needed to host the final of the tournament, which requires a capacity of at least 60,000." Use of the other venues "will be decided after discussions between the organisations." CrokePark Stadium Dir & GAA Commercial Manager Peter McKenna said, "Now that the votes been taken the next step is to meet with the IRFU and get an idea of the requirements." Aside from the 82,300-capacity CrokePark, the grounds involved and discussed by Central Council are: Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney (capacity 43,000), Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork (43,000), Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds (50,000), Pearse Stadium in Galway (30,000) and Casement Park in Belfast (32,000) (IRISH TIMES, 3/25).