An unexpected message sent by Rio’s Olympic Organising Committee will see the 2016 Olympic Games delivered “On time and on budget”.
Despite the documented delay and overspend that preceded the 2014 FIFA World Cup in June Last year, Leonardo Gryner, Deputy CEO of the committee ensures that “Everything will be ready at least eight months before the games, in time to hand over to the various federations for test events,” stating “That is very nice for us Brazilians. We feel very proud we have managed to deliver as planned.”
And as far as the facilities for the games are concerned it would suggest that Gryner is not exaggerating.
Buildings appear to be almost complete, many new centres are already functioning and a main advantage for the organisers is that much of the action will take place in existing sporting infrastructure. The opening and closing ceremonies, for instance, will take place in the Maracanã (already upgraded for the World Cup) and the athletics will take place in the stadiums built for the Pan American Games in 2007. Let’s face it, there’s hardly limited facilities to stage beach volleyball, sailing and mountain biking!
“75 per cent of the square metres required for the Games were already there,” says Gryner. “We were building just 25 per cent of the square metres required. Venues for events such as shooting, equestrian and the arena for gymnastics were all built for the Pan American Games.”
Nevertheless, taxpayers will still find themselves bearing the burden of paying for the international sporting event which will spend an overall budget of 37 billion Reais (£7.6 billion). As of yet, however, it appears the Brazilians are more welcoming of the Olympic Games compared to the animosity leading up to the criticised World Cup.
“Last week there were some protests all over the country,” says Gryner of the more than one million people who took to the streets to march against the government of President Dilma Rousseff. “We were very curious to see if there would be banners saying ‘No Olympics’. There was nothing like that. People have a very good understanding of what we are trying to undertake.”
In a poll that was conducted at the end of last year, 67% of Brazilians were in favour of the Games. This will be put to the test on Monday when the first tranche of tickets are made available for sale to the domestic market.
Gryner also went on to say that the games in Brazil will be “fit, clean and fun. Clean meaning being ethical. Fit meaning that we are doing what is needed and nothing else. That will show that many cities can host the Olympics without overspending. And fun? Well this is Brazil.”
Despite Gryners confidence and humour, serious issues still need to be addressed such as traffic control, pollution and crime. Brazil still have a lot to do before they can sit back but what Gryner and the Rio Olympics Committee is sure of is “The experience that people had when they arrived here for the World Cup, despite the criticism, was they had a wonderful time. Because that’s our way. And they will again for the Olympics.”
We say, bring on the games!