By Jack Whibley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The head of Brazil’s Olympic Public Authority (APO), the organization responsible for centralizing the country’s efforts for the sports mega-event, has resigned amid a political dispute just two weeks before the International Olympic Committee’s next inspection visit to Rio, as Folha de São Paulo reported last Tuesday.
The APO is responsible for coordinating the efforts of the city, state and federal government in relation to the 2016 Olympics. It is not in charge of the delivery or construction of Olympic projects and is a separate organization from the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee.
Following the news, some media outlets have questioned whether Fortes’ resignation could spell trouble for the games’ preparations, but the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee denied that Fortes’ departure would cause delays or problems.
“We thank Marcio Fortes for the significant contribution he has made to the Rio 2016 project. We will continue to work closely with the three levels of government – federal, state and city – with whom we have a very strong level of integration,” Rio 2016’s international media manager, Philip Wilkinson, told The Rio Times.
Wilkinson also confirmed that preparations for the 2016 Olympics are going according to plan. “The project is on track and we are looking forward to updating the IOC Coordination Commission on our progress at the beginning of next month,” he said.
The Cities Minister during President Lula’s government, Fortes became head of the APO in July 2011. He had reportedly become concerned that the APO was losing its influence on the organization of the Games and that it had become subordinate to the Government’s Sports Ministry.
In September 2012, the Sports Ministry created the Geolimpíada group, to coordinate the work of ministers for the Olympics. Fortes was a member of the Geolimpíada, but it was headed up by the executive secretary of the Sports Ministry, Luis Fernandes.
Fortes also lost influence with city and state governments at the start of this month after changes in the plans for the execution of Olympic projects, according to Folha.
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