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Monday, August 5th, 2013 marked three years to go until Rugby Sevens makes its Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016 and players, fans and officials have been taking to social media to celebrate the occasion.
The world’s finest players representing 12 men’s and 12 women’s nations will join 10,500 athletes from more than 200 countries in one of the world’s great cities for the landmark Games, the first-ever to be hosted in South America.
Excitement throughout the Rugby family has been palpable ever since the IOC voted Rugby Sevens onto the summer Olympic Games programme at Copenhagen in 2009. Fast, exciting and vibrant, with strong character-building values, Rugby Sevens has experienced unprecedented growth since the decision and players and fans from around the world have joined the IRB in celebrating the three years to go milestone.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset led the celebrations: "We are excited about Rugby Sevens’ Olympic Games debut and maximising the opportunity of competing on the world’s greatest sporting stage to reach out and inspire and engage new audiences and participants around the world."
"As we reach this three years to go landmark, planning and preparation is on track and we are confident of delivering in partnership with all stakeholders memorable, competitive, and ultimately successful Rugby Sevens competitions at the Rio 2016 Games that the Olympic Games movement, Rio and Rugby will be proud of."
The Rugby family joined in the celebrations, with top men’s and women’s players expressing their excitement via social media.
Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 winner and New Zealand star Portia Woodman @PortiaWoodman said: @irbwomens @Olympics would be a massive privilege to make the team and to be apart of the Olympics. Plenty to work on before then!!#excited.
France playmaker Terry Bouhraoua @terrybouhraoua tweeted: @IRBSevens @Rio2016 @Olympics it's incredible but it's my dream and will be my reality...I hope!!
Netherlands star Kelly van Harskamp @KHarskamp added: @irbwomens it's a dream already that rugby is a Olympic sport! If I have the chance to play there that would be even more amazing!
Australian swimming Olympic Gold medallist Melanie Schlanger @Mel_Schlanger tweeted: @IRBSevens I remember! Its going to be great (for #Sevens)! Hopefully ill be there to dress up and cheer the Aussie team to Olympic gold! :)
IOC President Jacques Rogge said: "As we reach the three-years-to-go mark, Rio 2016 is working hard to deliver on its vision and its commitments to the athletes of the world and to the people of Brazil. I am confident that Rio’s transformation will continue apace and that athletes, fans, and citizens will celebrate great Olympic Games together in Rio in 2016."
Rio 2016 Executive Director of Sport Agberto Guimarães said: "We are looking forward to hosting Rugby Sevens' Olympic debut in three years time. We are sure the sport will be an exciting addition to the Games. Planning for the venue in the Deodoro Olympic Park is progressing very well and we look forward to an excellent competition in 2016."
Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman said: "In three years’ time history will be made as the first Games to be hosted on South American soil are officially opened. It will be a proud moment for Rio, Brazil and everyone involved in the project, and we look forward to welcoming the world with open arms."
The men’s and women’s Rugby Sevens competitions are set to take place in a temporary, pupose-built 20,000 capacity arena at the Deodoro Olympic Park. The exciting complex is on track to become an attractive hub for fans as Basketball (preliminary rounds), canoeing, BMX, equestrian, hockey, modern pentathlon and shooting are all set to feature at the innovative area.
Tom Kingston was nearly a Sevens player five years ago, just as he entered the professional rugby ranks.