Saturday, March 22, 2014
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IOC tells Brazil to speed up pace of 2016 planning

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[March 22, 2014]  By Pedro Fonseca and Rodrigo Viga Gaier

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters)  Olympic officials wrapped up a three-day visit on Friday by warning that more haste was needed in deciding which branches of government must plan and pay for the 2016 event and related infrastructure.

Brazilian organizers have so far budgeted for 24 of the 52 projects that will be built for the Games and the cost is already at 44 percent of the original estimate.

Federal authorities and Olympic organizers meet in Brasilia on Thursday to discuss the Responsibility Matrix, the document outlining the funding for each Games-related project, said International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission officials on their sixth visit to the host city.

"It's crucial because the different partners have not yet agreed on the Responsibility Matrix and what will be down to federal, municipal and state governments," said Gilbert Felli, the IOC's director general of the Olympics.

"Some points of the Responsibility Matrix need to be decided and that can have an impact on timings and procedures."

In one example of the slow preparations, the Deodoro Sporting complex that will host nine events was originally supposed to be funded by the federal government.

However, responsibility was passed to the state government which then passed it to the city of Rio.

Work has yet to start on the complex but Felli said there was still time to avoid a repeat of the late rush that is going on as Brazil attempts to complete its football stadiums in time for the World Cup in June.

"There's no reason to worry if the deadlines are met," Felli said. "It's tight but it can be done in time."

He added that authorities had guaranteed the work would be completed on schedule.


IOC officials said they were confident Brazil would quicken clean-up work in Guanabara Bay, where the sailing events will take place.

With Sugarloaf Mountain looking down on one side, the bay is one of the city's most beautiful spots but environmentalists and sailors say the rubbish there churns the stomach.

Reuters reporters sailed in the bay last week and said the smell of sewage was overpowering in some places.

The water was dotted with plastic bags and bottles, bits of wood and even old sofas.

"We have been assured Guanabara Bay will have all the rubbish removed," said Cordination Commission chairwoman Nawal El Moutawakel.

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Rio dedicated a chapter of its bid book to the environmental legacy of the Games and said the Olympics provided the opportunity to clean up the notoriously filthy waters.

The first test competition takes place in the bay in August. Felli said the IOC would consider alternative venues if the event continued to provide cause for concern.

El Moutawakel also brushed off concerns about security just hours after drug gangs attacked police stations near the Maracana stadium, site of the Olympic opening ceremony and the World Cup soccer final.

Three officers were injured in the attacks that were aimed at the community police stations set up in the slums after authorities took them back from organized crime.

"We are saddened about what happened but we are sure all the levels of government are doing their utmost to guarantee security," El Moutawakel said.

Rio won the right to host the Games in 2009 and will become the first South American city to stage the world's biggest multi-sport event.

The Coordination Commission returns to Rio for another visit in September.

(Writing by Andrew Downie; editing by Tony Jimenez)

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