Brazil puts brakes on Rio Olympics spending

Former Moroccan athlete and member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Nawal El Moutawakel (L) and the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes (R), run on the track of the Joao Havelange stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 01 May 2009. Photo: EPA/Antonio Lacerda

RIO DE JANERIO – The mayor of 2016 Olympic host city Rio de Janeiro insisted on Tuesday that authorities had the finances to avoid disruption to the games despite Brazil's recession.

"We have enough money to make sure everything is presented as it is supposed to be, as you can see here," mayor Eduardo Paes told reporters, after unveiling an Olympic basketball court.

Brazil is suffering from a deep recession and soaring inflation – a contrast to the boom times of 2009, when Rio won the right to host the Olympics.

The IMF expects Brazil will stay in recession in 2016 and the World Bank has forecast a 2.5 percent contraction this year.

Paes insisted the crisis "is not affecting the finishing of the (sporting) installations" in the city's Olympic park, however.

He said Brazil would not "plunder" public resources to fund the games.

"We are not China, we are not England. We are not a rich country. Wherever we can cut the budget, we will," he said.

"The playing fields will be perfect and the spectators' experience will be perfect, but they will not see a stadium like the Bird's Nest," the eye-catching venue at Beijing's 2008 games, he said.

The total budget for the 2016 Games is $10-billion (R165bn), with 60 percent of that coming from private capital, he said.

Anger over public spending on events such as the Olympics and Brazil's 2014 football World Cup fuelled street riots across the country in 2013 and 2014.

Paes was presenting the Carioca 1 Arena, a 16,000-seat ground that will host the Olympic and Paralympic basketball tournament.

It was the second venue to be unveiled as finished in the city's Olympic park, after the handball court.


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