Rio’s grand, but Leeds square’s the place to watch our Olympic heroes

Date: 7th August 2012.
Crowds reacts in Millennium Square, Leeds, during the Olympic Triathon which GB's Alistair Brownlee, won Gold and his brother won Bronze.
Date: 7th August 2012. Crowds reacts in Millennium Square, Leeds, during the Olympic Triathon which GB's Alistair Brownlee, won Gold and his brother won Bronze.
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Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach may be nearly 6,000 miles away, but for Leeds sports fans there’s a venue with a Brazilian vibe where they can watch their Olympic heroes closer to home.

Millennium Square is set to be transformed into a sandy beach at the heart of the city centre, known as City Beach, from next Saturday.

Visitors to the square will be able to relax on deckchairs on the real sand beach area to watch all the sporting action from the second week of the Games, which start today, live on the big screen.

And to tie in with the Games, where Leeds and Yorkshire athletes such as Alistair Brownlee and Nicola Adams will be among the main British medal hopes, this year’s event has been given a special Brazilian twist as an official Team GB FanZone.

The games coverage will be aired on the big screen between 10.30am to 10.30pm each day, with highlights shown at the start of each day to cover any key moments with later finish times due to the time difference in Rio.

For each day of the coverage, sporting national governing bodies will also be present with an activation area adjacent to the beach, where visitors can get information and try ‘have a go’

sessions including British Shooting, Volleyball England, Royal Yachting Association, Table Tennis England and British Triathlon.

The square won’t be converted into a beach until next week as it is hosting a series of live music events this month, as well as Leeds Pride on Sunday.

After the Olympics end, City Beach will continue from August 22 until September 4 and will be open between 10.30am to 7pm daily.

Now in its fourth year the popular urban beach setting includes ‘Bamboo Bungees’ trampolines, a tropical jungle adventure funhouse, beach slide, traditional Helter Skelter, aqua Walker balls and pirate boats.

Trill-seekers can enjoy the ‘Crazy Wave’ and ‘Beach Buggies’ dodgems rides, and City Beach Radio, courtesy of Heart, will provide the music. Refreshments include a beach style BBQ swing grill together with traditional seaside sweets and ice cream.

The official opening of City Beach and the Leeds Fanzone will take place on August 13 at 11am with a short ceremony in the presence of the Lord Mayor Gerry Harper.

Leeds city council leader Judith Blake: “The excitement has really been building for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and it’s great that we’ll have a place in the heart of the city centre where people can feel close to the action.

“City Beach is always a hugely popular place for families to enjoy over the summer and having a Team GB FanZone on the square as well will really give the event an extra dimension this year.

“With so many Leeds athletes competing at the Games too, it’s a great place cheer on our sporting heroes and I’m sure they will do the city proud.”

For more details please visit: www.whatson.leeds.gov.uk

Rachel Reeves.

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