Rio Mayor: 2016 Olympic spending transparent, open

Author: Associated Press
MGN Online

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Promising complete transparency, Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes said Friday that local organizers were “completely open” to financial audits of the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics.

His statements come as Brazil is immersed in a sweeping kick-back scandal involving the giant state-run oil company Petrobras. Some of the country’s biggest construction companies have been implicated, many of which also have major contracts at the Olympic Park, Athletes’ Village and other projects to prepare for South America’s first games.

There is no indication of wrongdoing in connection to the Olympic projects.

“We are completely open to all kinds of inspections and transparency,” Paes said. “We are completely open to all oversight.”

In a year-end review at the Olympic Park, Paes was upbeat and said almost all Olympic-related projects being built by the city were on schedule. The notable exception was the indoor cycling venue, which he said was about three weeks behind.

“A three-week delay on a work of this size means nothing,” he said.

Paes said last month he had “no concerns” about Olympic contracts.

Work on Rio’s venues has speeded up since International Olympic Committee vice president John Coates said eight months ago that Rio’s preparations were “the worst I have experienced.” The IOC, which signaled the games were in jeopardy, subsequently sent in a troubleshooter to work with Rio organizers.

Coates said recently conditions were “much, much better.”

Paes said spending on the Olympics was now budgeted at 37.6 billion Brazilians reals ($14.2 billion), a 50-50 mix of public and private money.

The Brazilian currency has weakened by almost 12 percent against the dollar in the last year, meaning more reals are needed to buy the same amount of dollars – or products denominated in dollars.

Paes said he expected Olympic spending to go higher, mostly due to inflation, which is running at about 6.5 percent in the country.

Paes emphasized the difference between the Olympic operating budget – which is 7 billion reals ($2.7 billion) to run the games themselves – and capital budgets to build sporting and urban infrastructure.

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