"We're just so honored to have this huge event in our country," Adriana Lima tells PEOPLE
The Brazilians will return to their native country this summer as NBC’s food and culture correspondents for the 2016 Rio Games – and the models couldn’t be more excited to share their home with the world.
“Brazilians are very passionate about sports, sports run in our blood!” Lima tells PEOPLE with a laugh. “We’re just so honored to have this huge event in our country.”
The Salvador, Bahia, native adds, “This way the whole world will have a chance to experience our culture up close.”
Lima and Ambrosio, both 35, will act as special contributors for NBC’s late night programming, hosted by Ryan Seacrest, and will appear in cultural features across various platforms.
“I am so proud that the games are in Rio this year,” Ambrosio, who was born in Erechim, Brazil, tells PEOPLE.
And while Rio’s “traditions and beautiful nature” set it apart, it is the Brazilian people that, according to Ambrosio, “make the city so special.”
In preparation for their roles as Olympic correspondents, the models met up with some of their favorite athletes – including Team USA swimming champ Ryan Lochte, men’s gymnastics funnyman Sam Mikulak and beach volleyball veteran Kerri Walsh Jennings – to teach them Portuguese.
“I’m definitely going to be following Kerri Walsh as she goes for her fourth Olympic medal,” says Ambrosio. “And of course the Brazilian soccer team and Neymar [da Silva Santos Junior], as he is a good friend.”
Lima, also a die-hard Neymar fan, says she cannot wait to see him play.
For more of PEOPLE’s Olympic coverage, pick up our collector’s edition, The Best of the Games, on sale now.
“I love him because he is the God of Brazilian soccer,” she says.
As for Team USA, Lima is looking forward to seeing how Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, performs in the pool.
“He is such a talented swimmer and so strong,” she says. “I hope that I will have the chance to watch him up close.”
Although the women will spend most of their time in Rio working, they plan on hitting up their favorite restaurants and beaches with friends and family in their free time.
“I love sushi and recommend Sushi Leblon on the charming Rua Dias Ferreira, as well as Naga at the new mall in Barra,” says Ambrosio. “And stand-up paddle boarding in Ipanema is a must!”
Lima prefers a “tree-house style” restaurant called Aprazivel that she swears has the best heart of palm dish.
“They take it from a tree right in front of you and grill it in the trunk of the tree at the table!” she says. “It’s so organic.”
When she flies to Rio at the end of July, Lima plans on climbing to the top of Corcovado mountain to see the famous Christ the Redeemer statue and to “meditate” in front of the view.
“It’s a tradition that I have, every time I go there, I pass by and see the city,” she says. “It’s a time that I [can be] thankful for everything in my life.”