Last updated: 07:00 PM ET, Fri October 02 2015

Brazil Prepares To Host World Indigenous Games

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | October 02, 2015

Brazil Prepares To Host World Indigenous Games

Photo courtesy of Embratur

Brazil is fast gaining a profile as a major international sports city, having hosted the World Cup last year and preparing to welcome the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero. But the country will shortly host a very different sports event, one focused on competition among ethnic groups from 23 countries.

The World Indigenous Games, slated for Oct. 23 to 31 in the city of Palmas in central Brazil’s Tocantins state, will feature more than 2,000 athletes competing in indigenous traditional games including log racing, archery and tug-of-war. Athletes will also compete in a handful of Western sports, including soccer and swimming.

The event will also include a series of non-competitive demonstrations to showcase indigenous “heritage” games including xikunahity, a football-style game in which the ball is controlled only with the head. More than 305 indigenous groups live in Brazil today, according to the event’s organizers. 

Officials at Brazil’s Tourism Board (Embratur) are promoting the event as an opportunity for visitors to experience a largely undiscovered region of the huge country. Tocantins marks the border between Brazil’s northern and Midwest regions, which separate the country’s savannah from the Amazon rainforest.

Tocantins features diverse scenery including freshwater beaches, rivers, waterfalls and protected areas including Jalapao National Park, which features plains, dunes and waterfalls amongst a landscape that ranges from savannah to shrub lands. Palmas is also within close proximity of Araguaia National Park, whose Rio Araguaia offers wading, camping and fishing sites.

Participants in the games will also participate in a forum to discuss indigenous issues, including land rights and climate change. Other attractions will include a family-based farmers market, craft show, and cultural demonstrations.

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