Rio Olympics tightening belt amid crisis

RIO DE JANEIRO: The 2016 Olympics are 80 percent ready, but Brazil’s punishing economic crisis has forced organizers to dramatically tighten their belts, they said on Monday.

In the six years since Rio de Janeiro was named to host the Games, Brazil has gone from being an emerging market phenom to being mired in recession and political crisis.

That has put the pressure on the Rio 2016 Committee to keep a tight lid on expenses, said its chief spokesman, Mario Andrada.

He estimated the overall budget had been cut by between five and 20 percent. Athletes will not have TVs in their rooms and will have to share the ones located in the common areas of the apartments in the athletes’ village. The VIP area will be more modest than at past Olympics. And, in a bid to save paper, “print less” will be the mantra of the day.

Organizers even toyed with the idea of making athletes pay for their own air conditioning, but dropped the plan after numerous complaints.

“These will be the first Olympic Games to have intelligent cost management, with a balanced budget. We’re going to organize the games with the money we have. We’re not going to leave unsettled bills for the government or society to pay,” Andrada told AFP.

The committee has $1.9 billion to organize the Games, and is trying not to touch a $780 million fund from the federal government for related expenses such as transport infrastructure and security.

Andrada vowed no cuts would be made to budgets for venues, competitions, and the opening ceremony or “legacy” projects intended to last after the Games. But some construction projects have drawn criticism.

The diving pool will not have a roof, despite complaints from the federation responsible for the sport. And construction delays on the velodrome track, which will only be built in January, have raised eyebrows.


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