By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, and Brazil’s Sports Minister, Leonardo Picciani said on Thursday that the legacy left by the 2016 Olympics to city residents will be greater than that seen in Barcelona, Spain, during the 1992 Olympics.
“I’ve been told that there are two possibilities [for the Olympics]: Games that benefit from the city and the city which benefits from the Games. Rio will benefit from the Olympics and our legacy will be greater than that of Barcelona,” Paes told journalists at Rio’s media center.
Rio’s mayor said that after the Olympics and Paralympics, the competition venues will be transformed into federally-maintained sports centers, a school and community spaces for the residents of Rio. In the Olympic Park, where sixteen different Olympic competitions will be held, seven of the nine venues will be preserved.
The Olympic Villa, where athletes are living until the end of the Games, will be sold to private citizens and the Villa will become a very large apartment complex. The Deodoro Sports Complex will house a sports center in ‘one of the poorest parts of town’, giving low-income residents a chance to make use of a ‘modern state-of-the-arts sports facility’.
Sports Minister Picciani said that what is done with the venues after the Games is extremely important to the federal government. “The legacy is a priority for the Ministry. We want to unify the [sports] equipment and work from the bottom to the top of the [expertise] chain. We will invest in both sports initiation and high performance,” concluded Picciani.
According to Paes this year’s Olympics will be comparatively less costly than previous ones, with R$3 billion coming from the three levels of government and another R$4 billion from the private sector.
“I am proud to say that we are delivering the least costly Olympics in history,” stated the mayor.
When asked about the polluted waters of the Guanabara Bay, where some water competitions will be held, Paes said that this was the only item which the state did not deliver.
“We had seventeen legacy projects. The Guanabara Bay clean up project was the only one not reached before the Games,” he admitted, adding “the water quality is not the best, but it is not as bad as people say.”
Trying to downplay international media reports about the terrible water quality, Paes joked with journalists, “If it was as bad as they said we Cariocas (Rio residents) would all be dead.”