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IOC: Rio needs ‘constant supervision’ for 2016

February 6, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — With the Sochi Games about to start, the IOC faced up Thursday to the next challenge: overcoming the delays for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The IOC again warned Brazilian organizers that they have no time to lose in getting everything ready for the first Olympics in South America.

“Significant and tangible progress has been made,” said Nawal El Moutawakel, head of the IOC’s coordination panel for Rio. “It is clear, however, that constant supervision and assistance will be required over the coming months.”

Rio organizers gave their latest progress update to the International Olympic Committee during its general assembly in Sochi, promising to deliver all projects in time.

IOC President Thomas Bach traveled to Brazil last month to urge the government and organizers to speed up. He held talks with President Dilma Rouseff and other officials.

“We have made it very clear, very clear, there is not a single day to lose,” Bach said Thursday. “We need progress every day to make these games the success we all want it to be.”

Bach’s offered this message to the Brazilians at the end of Thursday’s presentation: “Congratulations, and back to work. There is no time to lose.”

Rio’s preparations have been dogged by delays in construction, particularly in the park that contains a cluster of sports venues in the Deodoro area.

The roof of Rio’s main Olympic stadium is under repair, and organizers said Thursday the work would be completed by the end of 2014.

There are also concerns over water pollution in Rio and the lack of a defined budget for all the projects.

Rio’s chief executive officer, Sidney Levy, told the IOC that the operating budget for the games was $3.5 billion. That’s money to run the games, not to build all the venues and infrastructure, which will cost many billions more.

“I can tell you we are committed,” Levy said. “We are motivated. We firmly believe our cause is a good cause and it’s your cause. We are ready to deliver great games in 2016.”

The IOC is also concerned about the massive street protests in Brazil last year during the Confederations Cup soccer (football) tournament. Protesters, initially upset about rising bus fares, took aim at the billions being spent on this year’s World Cup and the Olympics.

New Swedish IOC member Stefan Holm, a former Olympic high jump champion, asked the organizers about the protests in Thursday’s meeting.

“Brazil is a democratic country,” organizing committee chief Carlos Nuzman said. “As happens around the world in several countries, it is the same. We have the peace. We have the understanding of all the political parties and the population together.”

Bach said Brazilian officials need to communicate better to the public to show the long-term benefits of the Olympics.

“There is a good story to tell, but we need Rio and Rio 2016 needs to tell it to the people to maintain and even improve the support of the games by the population,” he said.


Follow Stephen Wilson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stevewilsonap

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