Rio 2016 staff working on the Olympic and Paralympic Village celebrated an important milestone on Thursday (12 March) – 500 days until the first athletes arrive to stay at the place they will call home during the Games.

Construction of the 475,000m² residential complex in Barra da Tijuca, in the west of Rio de Janeiro, is 75 per cent completed and due to be concluded by the end of the year. Usain Bolt and Co. will be able to move in 12 days before the opening ceremony, on 5 August 2016.

“Today is a very special date, as the Village will be the first Games venue to open to the athletes,” said Mario Cilenti, the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Village Director.

“The doors will be open to welcome the athletes from 9am on 24 July 2016, when everything will be fully operational.”

Construction of the Village began in July 2012 and passed the half-way mark last September. There are 31 buildings, each with 17 floors, divided into seven condominiums. The 3,604 apartments and 10,160 bedrooms will have a total capacity of 18,000 guests.

After construction work is completed, the process of transforming the buildings into the residential complex that will house the world’s finest athletes will begin. Temporary structures will include a health centre, a cafeteria with space for 5,000 diners and, of course, a gym.

The Village is being constructed next to Barra Olympic Park, which will be the heart of the Games. It has been designed to provide the Olympic and Paralympic athletes with the highest levels of comfort during their time in Rio.

For example, the Rio 2016 Organising Committee engaged a group of ex-athletes to help select the furniture that will be used. The doors are 10cm wider than conventional doors, the showers will be 2.2m high, as opposed to the standard 2.1m, and the beds will be 2.17m long.