Rio organizers put on brave face as Games
problems pile up
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[August 12, 2016]
By Karolos Grohmann
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Rio Olympics
organizers on Thursday put on a brave face as problems plaguing the
first Games on the South American continent pile up, admitting
preparations could have been better but sounding confident of eventual
With a backdrop that includes the country's worst recession since the
1930s and an ongoing political crisis that has divided the continent's
most populous nation, organizers are struggling with many aspects of the
From security and empty stands to problematic transportation, volunteer
and venue issues and even a lack of standard Olympic branding around the
stadiums, the Rio Games are facing a myriad problems five days into
"It is clear that everything we do in life, when we look back we believe
we could do better," Games spokesman Mario Andrada said on Thursday. "It
is the first Olympics in South America and first sport event of this
kind for the Brazilian public."
"We reached the Games in a very significant economic crisis. Political
changes also affected the mood of the Brazilian people," he said.
When Rio was awarded the Olympics in 2009 the country was seeing near
double-digit annual growth. Economic conditions, however, have meant
organizers ran out of cash years before the Games kicked off.
The pending impeachment trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff and
her replacement, interim President Michel Temer, have further fanned
discontent among Brazilians.
Spectators, unlike London in 2012, have not rushed to snap up tickets
and television pictures, broadcast around the world, show empty seats in
almost every venue, with only the Opening Ceremony selling out.
"I am not running away from the question. Things could have been done
better and we'll learn from this and do better at the next big event but
we have no regrets," Andrada said.
Security was always a major concern and armed robberies on athletes and
media as well as an attack with rocks on a media bus have only
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General view of the Olympic diving pool and the pool for the
waterpolo and synchronized swimming. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic
Shots were also fired in the vicinity of the equestrian center with
two bullets discovered there in the past days.
In the latest security incident, gunmen fired on a military police
car which strayed into the entrance of a slum not far from the
Maracana stadium which will host the athletics competition in the
Three members of the patrol were wounded, one critically.
Despite these problems, the International Olympic Committee (IOC),
long criticized for handing the Games to a country that is in more
need of social welfare projects than stadiums, said the Games would
deliver on promises.
"I am very confident they will be looked back on as landmark Games,"
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "There are problems here, there are
problems at every Games."
"With a global audience of three or four billion people it is the
most watched event. What is important is how these difficulties are
dealt with," Adams said.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Neil Robinson)
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