IOC inspectors to deliver clear message: speed up
By Stephen Wade ,APRIO DE JANEIRO -- IOC inspectors are sure to deliver a clear message to organizers of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics when they arrive for a two-day visit: end delays and speed up.
September 14, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
For their part, Rio officials are expected to promise that games' preparations — after a late start — are on course. Behind closed doors, they'll try to soothe concerns about a slowdown in landing local sponsorships, worries over hotel accommodation and transportation, and explain recent public protests that have questioned big spending on major sports events like the Olympics.
International Olympic Committee inspectors, headed by former hurdles champion Nawal El Moutawakel, will be at work Sunday and Monday. During the last visit six months ago, IOC executive director Gilbert Felli said: “We don't have any yellow card to send to Rio.”
Any such warning this time would be a reminder of the 2004 Olympics in Athens when then IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch issued his famous “yellow card” reprimand to Greek organizers.
At least two members of the coordination commission — Richard Carrion and former Olympic gold-medal swimmer Alex Popov — have spoken openly, saying things need to move quicker.
“There are games that are better prepared and games that give us a little more trouble,” Carrion said.
These games are still three years away and sure to stay off the radar until Brazil hosts football's World Cup next year, giving local organizers room to maneuver.
This is a challenging moment for South America's largest country, which is trying to organize two mega-events and is facing pushback from citizens who question spending so much on sporting events, particularly in a country with vast inequality, high prices and a slowing economy.
Brazil is spending about US$13.3 billion of largely public money on the World Cup. Olympic organizers are expected to announce their budgets in a few months, but public spending could be similar to the World Cup — or higher.
Leo Gryner, chief operating officer of the Rio games, acknowledged in a recent interview with The Associated Press that organizers got a “six to eight month” late start on building venues.
Gryner said that US$700 million in public money may be needed to balance the operating budget. This is the budget to run the games themselves and is expected to be as much as US$4 billion when it's announced. He said any shortfall was due to inflation, the sluggish economy and a struggle to sell local sponsorships.
Brazil's former World Cup champion soccer players, from left, Marcos, Zagallo, Rivellino, Amarildo and Bebeto pose for a photo with the FIFA World Cup trophy in front of the Christ ...