A giant clock set up on this metropolis' famed Copacabana beach has begun counting down the seconds until the start of the 2014 World Cup, when host Brazil will take the field in Sao Paulo for the tournament's opening match on June 12, 2014.
The timepiece is some 5 meters (16 feet) high and was designed by the most famous architect in Brazil's history, Oscar Niemeyer, who died last December at the age of 104.
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke and numerous officials were on hand for the ceremony, but soccer legend Pele, who was a part of three of Brazil's record five World Cup-winning squads, attracted most of the sunbathers' attention on Wednesday.
The former player urged Brazilian fans not to repeat the behavior they showed during a friendly match between Brazil and Chile in April, when they lost their patience, jeered the national team and chanted "Ole" when the Chileans executed a series of passes.
"We're starting to get the Brazilian team ready and it's clear sometimes things don't go well on the field, but we still have a year until the World Cup. Let's support the team," Pele said.
Brazil's national squad needs time to get in sync and the Confederations Cup event, which gets underway on Saturday, will be an opportunity to start coming together as a team, Pele said.
"Winning or losing the World Cup is a matter of luck and how the team is once they're there, but I hope I don't have the same experience I had at age nine, when I saw my father cry after Brazil lost," Pele said, referring to Uruguay's stunning defeat of the host nation at Rio's Maracana stadium in the 1950 World Cup final, an upset known as the "Maracanazo." EFE