By Sam Green, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio is among the cities which will benefit the most from hosting the Olympic Games in the history of the event, according to Gilbert Felli, the IOC’s Olympic Games executive director. Felli was speaking at the end of a three-day inspection of the city after which the IOC’s coordination commission said preparations for Rio 2016, which will be the first Olympic Games to be held in South America, were “in a very good position.”
With the announcement that golf will be staged in Barra da Tijuca, all of the events have now been assigned venues. Felli said: “This is the first time we have known five years before where each sport will be. In some cases in the past it has been one year.
“Rio is among the cities which will benefit most from the games coming,” added Felli. “Look at the improvements to public transport. Also the port redevelopment, which is not really needed for the games, but this is an opportunity to do it and it’s important for the mayor [Eduardo Paes] to align this development with the games.”
“Organizing an Olympics is probably the most difficult task a government can do, other than going to war. Brazil is trying to do in five years what should take thirty years and people should be proud of this.”
The glowing report will be a relief for the Brazilian government, especially after the problems which have dogged preparations the football World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
The IOC team also responded to international concerns about the relocation of favela communities for the Olympics. Nawal El Moutawakel, the chair of the inspection commission, said: “It is something we are closely following and the mayor has assured us that everything will be handled in a careful manner. I do not think the idea of holding the games here is to harm anybody.”
The inspection commission inaugurated a new school in Santa Teresa which will combine high-level sports training with formal education. Four more similar schools will follow. They visited the Maracanã Stadium, the Sambadrome (which will host archery and the marathon finish) and the site of the Transcarioca Rapid bus system, which will link the international airport and Barra da Tijuca, where the Olympic Village will be.
The IOC inspectors were also shown a water treatment facility, which cleans water from the polluted rivers which converge in Jacarepaguá, and was part of the bid pledge.
El Moutawakel said the commission was impressed by the government’s Minha Casa, Minha Vida social housing project and it was revealed that some of these new buildings could be used to house journalists during the Olympics, before being turned over to low-income families.
It was the commission’s second visit since the 2016 Olympic Games were awarded to Rio in 2009 and from next year they will come twice a year. Felli warned the organizing committee not to lose momentum. “So far we are very happy with preparations,” he said. “But we are monitoring very closely and if we start being worried we will let them know.”