By Sam Green, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The organizing committee of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games insisted its plans were “absolutely on target” as it emerged that the International Olympic Committee and FIFA are jointly monitoring preparations for the Olympics and the football World Cup in Brazil two years earlier.
Rio 2016 presented an update on its progress to the international sports federations, who work with organizing committees to deliver the Games, in London last week.
Carlos Nuzman, the president of Rio 2016, said: “We are absolutely on target according to the schedule set by the International Olympic Committee, working in close collaboration with the federal, state and city governments, and building a highly qualified team to deliver the Games.”
Nuzman highlighted the work underway in the construction of the Olympic and Paralympic Village, the port area renovation, Line 4 of the Metro, new bus services, the work of the Police Pacification Units (UPP) in the favelas and the confirmation of seventeen new hotels.
Jacques Rogge, the IOC president, said he was confident that Rio’s Olympic planners would meet their deadlines after a separate presentation last week to the IOC’s executive board in London by Nawal El Moutawakel, chairman of the IOC coordination commission for Rio 2016.
While the IOC is happy with Rio’s progress they have joined together with FIFA, football’s world governing body, to monitor the plans for the Games and the 2014 World Cup.
The eyes of the world are on Brazil to see if it can enhance its status as one of the most powerful emerging nations by successfully hosting the planet’s two biggest sporting events in succession.
World Cup plans have been dogged by controversy, with Brazilian football legend Pele warning in February that the country risks “embarrassing itself” and Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, last month telling Brazil to speed up its stadium and infrastructure improvements.
Many of these projects are essential to both events, for example Rio’s famous Maracana Stadium is scheduled to host the World Cup final and the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies.
Rogge said: “We have close contacts with FIFA. We give information about 2016 and FIFA gives us information about 2014. The coordination commission also gave a good report on its latest visit to Rio and we are confident the deadlines will be met.”
Rio 2016 believes it will deliver the most successful sponsorship program in Olympic history, but pledged not to clutter up the Olympic brand with too many sponsors, a previous criticism of Games. Rio 2016’s chief executive, Leo Gryner, said the committee needs to raise around R$1.9 billion (US$1.2 billion) from sponsorship to ensure it would not need financial help from the government.
The first two domestic sponsors, bank Bradesco and a communications consortium of Embratel and Claro, has already raised R$1 billion (US$640 million). Gryner said: “As a nation we are not looking for profit and will reduce the number of sponsors rather than go for more money… The target is not to need any funds from the government. We want to only use private money.”
However, infrastructure plans suffered a setback last week when the bidding deadline for the high-speed rail link between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, originally set for last November, was put back for a second time, until July. The R$33 billion (US$21 billion) project was supposed to be finished in time for the World Cup, but may now struggle to be ready for the Olympics.
Meanwhile, the Brazilian Olympic Committee and British Olympic Association have signed a mutual cooperation agreement to help with the preparation of Rio 2016 and London 2012. They will share information on facilities, training programs and athlete preparation.
Nuzman also signed a deal for Brazilian athletes to be based at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre for the London Games. The famous venue, in south London, is the traditional home of British athletics and has been modernized at a cost of 17 million pounds (R$43.6 million). Nuzman said the agreement laid the foundations for Brazilian success at the 2016 Games.