The 2016 Olympic Games got off to a spectacular start on Friday, Aug. 5. Despite earlier reports that the city was still a huge construction site, Rio’s Olympics public relations group tells Quartz in an email that all stadium constructions are now “100% done,” excepting a few serious glitches at the Olympic village.
The work that went into preparing Rio’s competition facilities over recent months—and even years before Brazil’s Olympic bid—has been breathtaking. Below, take a look back at the dramatic evolution of six key Olympic sites, in stunning satellite view.
Barra Olympic Park
Av. Embaixador Abelardo Bueno, 3401/10, Barra da Tijuca
Designed by Los Angeles, California-based AECOM, the Barra Olympic Park, located the western suburbs of Barra di Tijuca, is a cluster of nine sporting venues at the heart of the Rio Olympics.
Since its construction began in early July 2013, critics have said that Barra Olympic Park’s location will ultimately benefit an elite Miami-style neighborhood that consists mostly of shopping malls and gated communities. Top executives of Odebrecht and Andrade Gutierrez, the country’s construction giants tasked with building the park, have also been implicated in the separate Petrobas scandal, the biggest corruption case in Brazilian history.
The park was formerly the Formula One circuit of the Brazilian Grand Prix before being converted to host Olympic tournaments such as basketball, gymnastics, tennis and swimming.
Whitewater Stadium and BMX Center
Estr. Mal. Alencastro, 1357, Ricardo de Albuquerque
The Whitewater Stadium and Olympics BMX Centre are located in the X-park, a section of the Deodoro Olympic Park some 18 miles (about 30 km) north of the Barra Park.
The Deodoro Park is another key venue of the games that was also plagued by scandal. The site’s construction began in July 2014 after a two-year delay. Its construction firm, Brazilian construction giant Queiroz Galvao, was probed by Brazilian prosecutors for over-charging the state $12 million to dump excavated earth from the site.
Deodoro will host 11 Olympic events, including rugby sevens, BMX cycling, hockey, canoe slalom, shooting and equestrian events.
Olympic Golf Course
Av. das Américas, 10.033, Barra da Tijuca
The Olympic Golf Course is plagued by more than sand pits—feathered, furry, and leathery-skinned creatures roam the groomed grass.
A video crew from the Golf Channel recently spotted a number of local animals who are trying to reclaim the new golf course: ground-nesting owls, monkeys, a troop of 30 to 40 capybaras (the world’s largest rodent), and even crocodiles. Mark Johnson, the director of international agronomy of the PGA Tour, told the National Post that the animals and golfers are expected to co-exist. At worst, he said, golfers “will just get a free drop” if they accidentally stepped onto one of the owl-dug holes. Not so funny for the owl whose home will get trampled upon, though.
The site is designed by Gil Hanse, a golf course designer. Its construction began in April 2013 and is built a little further south from the Barra Park. Its encroachment on the Marapendi reserve has sparked protests by environmentalists.
Beach Volleyball Arena
Av. Atlântica, Posto 2, Copacabana
The temporary arena is built on the Copacabana Beach in Rio’s south zone and will no doubt be “the most beautiful arena” at the Rio Olympics, according to Ary S. Graça, president of the International Federation of Volleyball. Its construction began earlier this year.
The venue required an extension of the city’s two metro lines, in order to transport Olympic visitors from the beach to other sporting venues around the city. Its construction has been relatively uneventful, aside from a minor halt related to a missing permit and the occasional body parts washed ashore.
Av. Miguel Ignácio Curi, 111, Vila Carmosina, São Paulo
The arena hosting some of the Olympic soccer tournaments this year was initially built for the 2014 World Cup. Like Barra Park, the arena was also built by the developer Odebrecht, and named after the Brazilian soccer club. Construction began in 2010, and two workers on the site were killed in late 2013, when a crane collapsed.
With capacity for nearly 50,000 spectators, the arena will host some tournaments, but not the Olympic soccer semifinals and the finals. These will be held at the Mineirão, some 280 miles (450 km) north of Rio, and at the Maracanã Stadium, where the opening ceremonies took place.
Olympic Shooting Center
Av. Brasil, 27195 Campo de Instrução de Gericinó, Vila Militar, Deodoro
The Olympic Shooting Center, also known as the National Shooting Center, was built previously for the 2007 Pan American Games. The centre is part of the Deodoro Olympic Park. It has since been renovated and upgraded, with a temporary unit added.
The time-lapse images in this article were kindly provided by DigitalGlobe, a commercial satellite imaging company that creates high-res Earth imagery and analysis.