The Olympic flag arrived in Rio de Janeiro, which will host the 2016 Summer Games -- a challenge which authorities in Brazil say the city is prepared to conquer.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes stepped off a plane carrying the flag, accompanied by Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the 2016
Games Organising Committee and Rio Governor Sergio Cabral, an AFP correspondent at the airport saw.
"The arrival of the Olympic flag marks a period of transformation in the city," Paes told reporters. "This is a unique opportunity for Brazil -- a time of great celebration."
Also on board the plane were Brazilian athletes -- some with medals around their necks -- who competed in the London Games, which ended on Sunday in a blaze of music, fireworks and light.
"Arriving in Rio with the flag was a privilege for us, the athletes," said Robert Scheidt, who won bronze in Olympic sailing's Star competition with Bruno Prada.
"There is room for much improvement (in terms of the number of medals won) here in Rio," Scheidt added.
Brazil won a total of 17 medals in London -- three gold, five silver and nine bronze.
Hosting the Games will be a huge challenge for a city notorious for its traffic chaos, poor infrastructure and shanty town violence, but authorities say Rio -- which also hosts the 2014 World Cup -- will rise to the occasion.
Today, the Olympic flag will be flown to Brasilia for a ceremony attended by President Dilma Rousseff and tomorrow, Paes will carry it through Rio's northern Alemao complex of shanties -- known here as favelas -- as well as through the western district of Realengo, officials said.
© Copyright © 2013 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.