There are very few events in which the whole world participates; few languages universal to mankind. Sport is one of them; and the Olympic Games, a shining example of the human triumph and aspiration that translates across all cultures.
Yet, despite the age-old symbol of these hallowed games representing global unity and participation, the Olympics have not yet fully realized the dream that their five interlinking rings suggest.
Since the International Olympic Committee was first established in 1894, no games have ever been held in a South American city, keeping the more than 380 million people of South America from making our mark on the Olympic movement.
As a Brazilian and a lifelong sports enthusiast, I am proud to note that while our turn to organize the event has not yet come, it does not mean that we've shied away from competing. In fact, the first Olympic medal won by a South American country went to Brazil in the 1920 Antwerp Games. Many more have followed it, bringing glory to our athletes and country.
But it is one thing to play along, and another to offer the playing field.
Like any serious athlete preparing for the ultimate match, Brazil has trained long and hard to become worthy of this challenge and this honor. That training includes rallying our executive, federal, state and municipal levels of government around the central goals of achieving responsible, socially equitable, and environmentally sustainable development. It also includes successfully hosting multi-discipline and multi-country events as the Pan American Games in 2007.
I hope the day has finally arrived to show the world we have the heart of a champion.
This week, the IOC will announce the host city of the 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympics Games. If Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second largest and most iconic city, is successful in its bid, it will mark a passing of the torch that is symbolic on many levels.
To host the games is to receive a stamp of global trust. And in the last ten years, Brazil has achieved economic, political and institutional stability that is worthy of that trust. We are one of the world's ten largest economies and have recently become one of the first countries to emerge from the global financial downfall.
With this success as a backdrop, I believe that a win for Rio would signal to all South Americans, as well as the citizens of other emerging countries, that they too can compete on equal footing on the global stage if they can harness their skills, focus their talent, and play by the global rules of good sportsmanship.
The irony of the Olympic motto of "Citius, Altius, Fortius" -- or "Swifter, Higher, Stronger" -- is that, while it inspires competition, it encourages us all to move in the same positive direction. We move, as a world, toward success, fairness, legitimacy. Let us hope that we will all bear the torch one day.
Orlando Silva Jr. is Brazil's Minister of Sports.